Heyyyyy everybody, Jax here with your weekly Thursday Night SnaxDown! Brought to you by the letters D and A! And quite possibly the letter H repeated three times! But enough about our questionable sponsors — let’s do dis shiz, y’all.
So of course we start with a three minute recap of pretty much the entire plot surrounding the WHC title, as we apparently forget every vaguely interesting incident within days. Blah blah blah, and we’re saved by Dean Freaking Ambrose, limping down the ramp like he owns the place, and as far as I’m concerned he may as well. I mean, dude is going up against Brock at Mania, plus he decided to challenge Trips for the top title? Dean pulls a steel chair into the ring, flops his bruised ass down, and proceeds to talk about his plans.
He has no plans.
Of course he doesn’t: he’s Dean Ambrose. He lives in the moment, and lately his moments have been filled with some sucky things. Like getting thrown into a windshield by the Beast Incarnate, or listening to Trips puff up his own ego for twenty minutes at a time, and Dean gets a little nauseous about that, so really Dean’s just like us little people (except for that whole windshield thing). He admits his lack of plan led to getting a beating from the King of Kings, sure, but it also led to the Roadblock special, and more importantly his shot at the WHC title! Cue cheers! And if he wins? He goes against Roman at Mania. More cheers, maybe! Also some boos because Roman got mentioned! (Sigh.)
“And here’s where things get messy.” See, everyone in the back already made all the crappy posters and such for Mania, right? But… what if Dean wins at Roadblock? What happens then? Let’s be honest, we’re all asking that, even those of us who swear Dean will be the sacrificial lamb to ensure Roman’s reign is entirely devoid of boos. Dean’s question to us is this: if he wins at Roadblock, does he go up against Roman in place of Trips? There’s still the Brock match, which he’s very much still wanting for vengeance purposes and because ‘slayed a beast’ looks awesome on a resumé. Also important: Trips is a slippery sneak who might pull shenanigans like oh, say, a Roadblock rematch clause, with said match at Mania. So… Roman, Trips, Brock? Who to fight? “Maybe I just fight ’em all! Maybe we just put all four of us in a cage, drop the cage, and see what happens, I dunno — anything can happen!”
I think Dean single-handedly got me excited for WrestleMania. What the hell kinda magic was that?
Speaking of ‘anything can happen’, here comes Kevin Owens to be a Judgy McJudgerson. Dean adjusts his chair so he can face KO, who asks him why the hell he’s even out here; apparently KO is a leeetle bit jelly about how Dean got the crap kicked out of him, multiple times, and yet still has two big matches, one of which for Mania. Meanwhile, our ‘hero’ KO, the Intercontinental Champion? Can’t even find a #1 contender worthy of his attention. Dean’s stellar advice? “Well, Kevin, maybe you could be nicer to people.” Dean probably has like fifteen concussions just from looking at Brock the wrong way, though, so he’s allowed to sass KO all he wants in my eyes, I’m just saying.
The more Dean sasses KO with his ‘advice’, the more pissed KO gets, until he finally calls Dean ‘everything that’s wrong with WWE’. KO, hate to break it to you, but Vince still exists. Anyway, KO shoves Dean, who winces and almost falls over. Yeah, remember all those beatdowns? Because Dean’s body sure does! KO calls him out as a broken man and then, of course, proceeds to go for a surprise attack from behind. Too bad for him, though, as Dean not only dodges, he kicks KO in the gut… aaaand then whacks him clear outta the ring with the steel chair. “Hey, Kev! There’s a giant TV screen right there, I could see ya from a mile away!” Ahah, Dean, you clever scruffy puppy you.
A wincing Dean challenges KO to a match tonight, and a stunned Mauro kinda wants to see that, despite knowing how battered Dean currently is. Not gonna lie, I kinda wanna see this too.
Our first official match of the night is the Usos versus the League of Bae-tions, specifically Sheamus and Rusev, with Del Rio and Barrett left outside the ring to flex their pecs and cheer on their best bros. Confession: I fully admit I’m only here to watch the antics of the League, y’all. I don’t see a lot of personality displayed by the Usos, other than ‘like to have fun’ and ‘related to Roman’. It certainly doesn’t help that even if their names were emblazoned on their shirts so commentary could finally identify them correctly it just wouldn’t matter, as their ring style is entirely identical. Sure, Jey is more reserved and Jimmy’s the loud impatient one in their promos and segments… but does it even matter when it doesn’t translate in the ring?
A few notes on this mediocre match:
- Jimmy’s got mad swagger in the ring while Jey is apparently incompetent? Is that tonight’s ring psychology?
- Rusev has more personality than both Usos combined. Also has standing dropkicks for miles!
- Jey gets his shirt removed — thanks, Rusev!
- Sheamus ruins Jimmy’s plan for a win by lifting his knees under his top rope splash. How… dastardly, I guess? Sure, let’s go with that.
The super evil League of BFFs celebrate their victory by hugging each other warmly and then stand aside to politely usher in the Dudley Boyz, who saunter in carrying their new supposed nemesis, a table. Jey attempts to head them off at the pass by attacking first, but as Mauro says: “The Dudley Boyz are treating the Usos like politicians treat the truth — and speaking of which, King, what happened to their new rule, ‘no more tables’?” The Boyz set up the table in a corner as Byron points out that apparently they can just change the rules as they go. Remember when the Dudleyz told the Usos not to take this personally? “We lied!” The League claps on the ramp as the Dudleyz yell at a downed Jimmy. I guess I should be interesting in this, but I don’t particularly care about either side in this feud. Whoops.
There’s a lovely replay of Steph McMahon, the Mad Queen, taking delight in the thought of her brother Shane getting dismembered by the Undertaker. Shane’s gonna show up at the next Raw, which is the one thing I’m looking forward to. Save us, Shane-o-Mac!
Dolph ‘Butt Wiggler’ Ziggler enters the ring, and his hairstyle and wrist tape makes him look like he’s about to participate in a taekwondo tournament, but maybe that’s just me watching too many old Eric Roberts movies. He’s going up against the Miz, who is smug and Kanye-ish as usual, strutting down the ramp with more charisma than almost every babyface combined. According to commentary, Miz previously beat Dolph in a minute and five seconds. Let’s see how long this rematch goes–
45 seconds. Not even enough of a match to recap.
For some reason Dolph is very, very happy about this, and he proceeds to run around like a dork, whooping and hollering and slapping hands with every member of the audience he can reach. Miz is vexed, and I’m perplexed. Thus ends this match, leading to…
Oh boy, another Golden Truth segment. This time, your confused friend and mine R-Truth is having second thoughts about being mean to Goldie, who sits forlornly in a corner with his plate of food. Truth tries his best to convince Goldie that he’s had a change of heart and really does want to start this tag team, but Goldie isn’t convinced. In fact, he’s so unconvinced, he thinks Truth is making fun of him. Goldie throws his food into his own face and storms out, not giving Truth the chance to make a fool of him this time. He can do that himself, thank you very much. Truth is left concerned and still vaguely confused, like the rest of us after watching this segment. Seriously, why does Truth suddenly want this tag team to happen? Literally nothing has changed between his last no and his sudden change of opinion. The hell, y’all?
The next match is the rematch between our resident Lass Kicker, Becky Lynch, and the Legit Bo$$, Sasha Banks. Bex enters to her usual fanfare and steampunk smoke, and as Sasha struts in I realize I still want that jacket, dang. Get on that, WWE Shop.
- Dueling chants: ‘Let’s Go Sasha!’ ‘Let’s Go Becky!’ Divas actually getting chants! Now that’s a divas revolution.
- The back and forth on this is fantastic despite the lukewarm crowd response. Mauro’s commentary may not be enough to sell anyone on divas matches. We might just need a breakout talker for the casual crowd to really get behind them.
- Sudden Charlotte appearance, followed by her well-preserved mummy of a father, and Bex and Sasha look at her like she just farted in their living room. Ugh, her.
- Banks Statement! Oh shit oh shit oh– Bex grabs the rope, whew!
- With every failed pin Sasha gets more and more exasperated, screaming “WHAT?!” at one point, staring up at the WrestleMania sign like it’s gonna give her energy for a spirit bomb.
- Failed pin by Bex leads to her own look of desperation, and she’s pulling off kicks left and right.
- “Oh no, it’s the Flair strut! …Oh no, it’s the Flair woo!” Well, King’s not… wrong. Ric woo’s in the faces of the two ladies outside the ring, but they convene on him…
Charlotte takes that moment of distraction to attack, causing a disqualification, and Byron is appalled and upset. As Charlotte beats both ladies, Byron actually rants at King, who swears she was just protecting her dad. “Protecting nothin’, she just ruined this match! She’s protecting her championship, that’s what she’s doing! Charlotte doesn’t wanna face Sasha Banks OR Becky Lynch, that’s the reality!” Go off, Byron, you tell that heel King! As Charlotte saunters away with her creepy dad in tow, commentary realizes that we still don’t know who’s going to be the number one contender for Charlotte’s Mania match for the Divas title.
Charlotte and her dad dance around backstage until they get hit with some tough questions from Renee, who wants to know if they did that BS on purpose. Charlotte swears neither of the ladies deserved to fight her for this title, and that Renee should know this because she should be getting scoops and, y’know, whatever it is interviewers are supposed to. Turns out Renee did in fact get a scoop: Charlotte’s gonna have a three-way match between her and both Bex and Sasha. “Any comments on that?” Renee asks, ultra chipper. The Flairs stalk off angrily, and Renee is perfect forever.
Next up is The New Day, who are incredulous about Y2AJ getting a tag titles match. I gotta agree with them, though, but how many tag teams do we even have active right now? The Dudleyz and the Usos are in a pointless feud, the Lucha Dragons are I guess part-time what with Kalisto getting the occasional singles push, PTP are defunct (with Titus demoted to a 60-day suspension for being polite, and Darren demoted to Main Event and Superstars for literally no reason), the Ascension are attached to Stardust now, Kidd and Cesaro are both injured, and Los Matadores maybe got eaten by El Torito.
Anyway, Kofi thinks Jell-O is a miracle and Big E thinks Atlanta is booty, but AJ Styles doesn’t really like where this is going, so he’s gonna come out now to start his singles match against Kofi already. My notes are short here, not because the match wasn’t good (it was), not because it was short (it wasn’t), but because the New Day going up against someone like AJ Styles — sans new boyfriend Jericho — means they can’t really do a lot of back and forth banter due to AJ not really being good with banter. They need someone at their level, charisma-wise, and he may have a ton of in-ring talent, but AJ’s charisma still needs that rub from Jericho. I did love AJ ducking Trouble in Paradise and countering with a Pele Kick, though. That shit was boss as hell.
Before the final match, the Wyatts take over our television sets to ramble about the apocalypse and… call out Brock? What. Are you serious? “Where I come from, beasts bow to me. And soon… so will you.” Did Bray seriously just challenge Brock to… something? I’m not sure. Is anyone ever really sure of what the Wyatts are doing, though?
So our main event is a half-dead Dean Ambrose versus petulant spoiled child Kevin Owens. They start in on each other hard, but Dean looks like he’s falling apart already, and as he takes a break outside the ring I worry about the poor thing and wonder how much tape is holding him together. My notes are a little weird, because I got pretty excited by the end there. Sorry, y’all. Dean’s my fave.
- KO tosses Dean around in the ring like it’s nothing, strutting around like he owns the place, and he may very well if Dean continues to be pummeled.
- Dean finally attempts a Dirty Deeds, multiple times, but his shoulder’s out and it just isn’t happening. Ow ow ow ow.
- With every attempt to turn the tide, KO is there with more brutal hits, and now I want this feud to be one of those lifetime feuds, because can you imagine them just going at each other time and time again with the ferocity they’re both known for? Give me this.
- KO sends chops and throws and a senton onto the ‘carcass’ of Dean Ambrose, and thanks Mauro, now I’m worried Dean’s just gonna keel over and pass out. (But really, thanks Mauro, because that was good word choice.)
- While Dean’s dazed on the side, KO rips the cover off the commentary table and screams at Mauro and company to tell everyone how good he is. Mauro sputters back, “You’re good, you’re good!”
- KO keeps yelling but it distracts him and Dean takes advantage, finally. Here we go…
- Dean in the ring attempting to do what he can. One sign of the cross later, out he flies, throwing himself at a KO on the outside. POW. …Ow.
- KO’s cannonball to the corner looks like it destroys Dean’s ribcage but he *still* kicks out because fuck you, KO, Dean is indestructible.
- Ambrose with a flying elbow despite his bandages being pulled off! KO kicks out of the pin at two though. Oh lord.
- Dean dives out again! And is caught! And gets slammed against the ring apron. Ow ow ow ow.
- Dirty Deeds countered! Pop-up powerbomb countered! Superkick to Dean’s face!
- Senton blocked by Dean’s knees! OW!
- DIRTY DEEDS FINALLY HAPPENS! PIN FOR THE WIN! AMBROSE WINS!
Special thanks to Mauro for selling the holy fuck outta this match. He was as excited as I was, and I was yelling at the screen. Another thanks goes out to Byron in particular, as he was equally as excited in his own way, and tonight was actually a good example of how Byron’s face commentary is a great addition to the play-by-play of Mauro and the return of King’s heel commentary. Fabulous job, guys.
Tonight’s weirdly balanced SmackDown ends with KO a confused mess, rolling on the floor in a pained daze, and Dean somehow still standing, staring up at the WrestleMania sign like it’s some kind of mirage. The Roadblock special is coming all too soon. Did this match deplete Dean’s strength, or will he pull out another surprise win against The Game? We’ll see.