Date: July 23, 2015
Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips, Jimmy Uso
This is an interesting show as Raw went off the air with a closed story for a change. The big story is of course the announcement of Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar…..we’re probably at V or VI over the years now. There’s no chance either guy is on this show so we should get some new stuff set up for Summerslam instead. Let’s get to it.
Jerry Lawler isn’t here tonight, possibly due to his brother passing away this week.
Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose
Sheamus has seen Dean’s insanity but thinks Dean is just wanting a way out. Well tonight there’s no way around the beating that he’s going to receive from the next World Champion. Dang man Cena is here? You don’t expect that on a Smackdown. Dean thinks Sheamus looks stupid and those are fighting words.
It’s a brawl to start with Sheamus getting knocked to the floor where he easily stops a dive with a forearm to the head. Sheamus goes after him again but eats a tornado DDT onto the floor. We take a break and come back with Sheamus breaking up another tornado DDT attempt and starting in on the knee, which was hurt a few weeks back so why not. A powerbomb gets two on Dean and it’s time for a half crab.
Dean gets underneath Sheamus for the break and hits the rebound clothesline as the knee is suddenly fine. That stuff gets old fast but you get used to it after awhile. Now the suicide dive hits, followed by the standing elbow drop but here’s Bray Wyatt to interrupt. Harper is standing on the announcers’ table as well and Dean goes after him, only to walk into a Brogue Kick. Back in and another Brogue Kick gives Sheamus the pin at 11:33.
Rating: C. The match was your standard brawl but there’s one thing I really liked: this opened the show. Not a promo to set up the main event, not the same long promo that we’ve heard a dozen times this month, not trying to figure out if we’re supposed to hate the Authority or be so happy that a little ray of Stephanie’s sunshine chased the blues away again, and not a five minute recap of what we saw last week. It was a wrestling match to open the show and that’s a very nice change of pace.
We get a comic book style recap of Stardust vs. Neville from last week.
Neville doesn’t think Stardust is a supervillain because Stardust is a coward. You can’t stop what you can’t contain and the Altitude Era is upon us. Neville leaves and Stardust pops up on the video screen to laugh.
Neville vs. Adam Rose
Feeling out process to start with Rose hitting a quick snap suplex and putting on an early chinlock. Adam busts out a middle rope hurricanrana to send Neville outside but his suicide dive is countered with a forearm to the face. Some kicks and a moonsault set up the Red Arrow for the pin at 3:05.
Rating: D+. There wasn’t much here but it’s always good to see Neville getting in the ring. I know a feud with Stardust isn’t much but it’s nice to see him having a feud at all. This could lead somewhere for him with the superhero idea as it’s one of the easiest things in the world for a heel to go after. Rose looked decent there too.
Neville poses when Stardust comes on the screen with a party hat on and a noisemaker in his mouth. He says even the sharpest arrows come crashing down. His hand is touching your hand (Hard Times reference) so be his hero.
Video on Sasha Banks where she talks about being the Boss and debuting on Raw as part of the three way feud.
Here’s King Barrett to say he’s the most important thing in WWE. He defeated three names in less than 24 hours and then defeated R-Truth again this past Sunday. That win told everyone that you better hit him right between the eyes because he’ll take your head off. This was an old school promo with Barrett just coming out and talking about who he is and why you should care about him. I’ll take that over another loss or stupid feud any day.
Here’s Kevin Owens to talk about people chanting TAP OWENS TAP at him. Yeah he tapped, but Owens gave Cena the fight of his entire career. However, he isn’t the one with the motto of NEVER GIVE UP. His motto is more along the lines of “live to fight another day.” Owens has no issues with turning on Rusev this Monday because Rusev was too busy trying to figure out which Lana he wants to get to second base with. Cue Rusev and it’s time to fight.
Rusev vs. Kevin Owens
I’m digging these heel vs. heel matches because they make sense to the story and the heels aren’t buddies just because they’re heels. Summer is once again dressed as Lana. Rusev goes right after Owens to start and we take a break in about thirty seconds. Back with Owens elbowing him in the face and punching the Russian out of Rusev. Owens avoids a charge in the corner and nails a superkick, followed by the Cannonball for no cover.
Instead it’s a Vader Bomb for two as Owens keeps adding new stuff to his arsenal. It’s chinlock time before a Codebreaker of all things gets two more on Rusev. Another chinlock slows things down until Rusev fights back with strikes and a spinning belly to back suplex. The spinwheel kick stuns Owens again, all the way to the point that he sticks his chin out for the running superkick. Rusev loads up the Accolade but Owens rolls outside for the countout at 9:39.
Rating: C. This worked while it lasted and I like that Owens’ character is now someone who doesn’t want to fight after talking a big game. However, this goes against the formula that made him a big deal down in NXT. He’s talented enough to make it work, but I’d like to see him beat someone up again just because he can.
Cesaro is fired up about getting to face Seth Rollins tonight because it’s all about loving this business. He would drive hundreds of miles for a handshake and missed his best friend’s wedding but that’s what this is all about. It’s time to prove that the American dream is alive and well. Owens comes up to make fun of Cesaro, saying that Cesaro took Cena to the limit but Owens beat him. Kevin says Cesaro abandoned his family but Cesaro calls him the master of abandoning because of all the matches he’s walked out on. Owens is on his way to catering so Cesaro warns him not to choke like he did against Cena. Good stuff here.
Naomi/Sasha Banks vs. Bella Twins
Nikki takes Naomi to the mat to start and I think the Bellas are actually faces here. It’s off to Brie, who eats a clothesline from Naomi, allowing for a tag to Sasha. Nikki comes back in for a headscissors with pushups before Brie dropkicks Sasha for two. BRIE MODE is broken up by Tamina because the power of a scream can be devastating. Brie gets pulled outside for some stomping and we take a break.
Back with Naomi stomping a mudhole in Brie before Sasha sends her back into the corner. The double knees get two as this is a very standard formula Divas tag, which you really don’t see that often. Naomi puts on a chinlock as Nikki plays cheerleader on the apron. To be fair I like the Bellas as faces more, but could we please get a reason why we’re supposed to care about them now, especially when it was supposed to be such a huge moment when Brie tapped out on Sunday?
Back to Naomi for a Codebreaker (with feet instead of knees) for two before slapping on another chinlock. A BRIE MODE chant gets Brie to fight up and she finally dropkicks Naomi to the floor. Nikki comes in for her clotheslines and an Alabama Slam to Naomi. Sasha breaks up a Rack Attack as everything breaks down. Brie and Sasha fight outside, leaving Nikki to Rack Attack Naomi for the pin at 13:14.
Rating: C+. Considering this was a Bellas match, I was kind of shocked at how much I liked it. The key thing for me here: this didn’t feel like a Divas match but a match that Divas in it. I could see any male wrestlers having this same match and liking it just as much, which is a major change for this division. The Bellas turning again for no apparent reason (again) is annoying but you have to accept it at this point.
The Tough Enough cast talks about why Jake Gyllenhaal is tough.
Long recap of Undertaker vs. Lesnar on Raw.
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
Non-title. Rollins bails to the floor to start before easily countering a wristlock into a gorilla press. Back up and Seth kicks Cesaro to the floor for a suicide dive as we take a break. As you might expect, we come back to Rollins holding a chinlock but Cesaro powers out and throws some suplexes. A slam into a suplex (cool move) gets two more on Rollins as the announcers compare Cesaro to Chuck Norris.
Seth comes back again with a low superkick for two but Cesaro changes things up again with a running dropkick for a near fall. Saxton: “Is there anything Cesaro can’t do?” Uh, get a pin? The buckle bomb (with a nice throw) staggers Cesaro again but he counters the Pedigree into the Sharpshooter. Rollins is too close to the ropes though so it’s off to a Crossface in the middle of the ring. That doesn’t work either so it’s a VERY high Swiss Death for two more. The Swing is broken up by a poke to the eye though, setting up the Pedigree to give Seth the pin at 13:31.
Rating: B. Good match here and I like the idea of a heel doing something as simple as poking his opponent in the eye. It doesn’t have to be this big ref bump and interference ending that we always get, especially when there’s something simple they can do like a thumb to the eye. Cesaro continues to be awesome and hopefully he goes somewhere instead of just being considered bulletproof when he isn’t yet.
Owens comes out and gives Cesaro a Pop Up Powerbomb to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. I liked this more than I’ve liked a Smackdown in a long time for one reason: this felt like a wrestling heavy show instead of the usual Raw supplement we get most of the time. The Divas got time, the main event was good, and the worst match was barely long enough to rate. It’s a good, fun show that let the wrestlers wrestle and advanced some midcard storylines. That’s what a show like Smackdown should be if it’s not going to be anywhere near Raw’s level. Good use of the blue show this week.
Sheamus b. Dean Ambrose – Brogue Kick
Neville b. Adam Rose – Red Arrow
Rusev b. Kevin Owens via countout
Bella Twins b. Naomi/Sasha Banks – Rack Attack to Naomi
Seth Rollins b. Cesaro – Pedigree
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