Jobber Report: Smackdown, January 22nd, 2015
So, let’s get into it.
Daniel Bryan opens the show and addresses the crowd in his usual charming manner. Instead of talking about his own agenda this coming Sunday at the Royal Rumble or his WrestleMania wishes, he generously gives props to John Cena’s victory on Raw and brings out the three faces who are now back in employment: “the” Ryback (?), Eric Rowan, and Dolph “I’m-so-damn-over-it’s-crazy” Ziggler.
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton on commentary (not sure who’s the heel here. Is it Saxton?). Cole makes reference to the fact that for so long, Ziggler has been a victim of the Authority… Really? How long exactly? Since he joined Team Cena back in November? So, a couple months. Okay.
Bryan passes it off to each man so they can say a little something.
Ryback’s new gimmick of preaching positivity still comes off as a bit contradictory and clunky at times, but he sells it when he ties it back to his boyhood dreams of competing in the WWE. It comes off as honest, and it endears me to him. He closes it off with “The Authority sucks!” and as he passes off the mic he remarks, “Everybody loves the Big Guy.”
Eric Rowan took his time delivering his speech, and was actually quite eloquent and thoughtful. He said that he spent some time thinking about who he was, that for a long time he was “naive”, “a puppet”, and that he now sees himself in a new light, and that he knows now who he really is.
Ziggler, with the crowd so into him, talks about eating stuffed crust pizza and references Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s exercise DVDs. It’s at times like this that I realize how little I hear Dolph Ziggler talk for more than a couple of lines. He’s very relaxed and funny. If they were to put him in a prominent role in the company, he could hang with the best of them and really sell a story.
The big story of the night, as far as social media is concerned, was his comment about “sitting on some couch, complaining on some podcast”, obviously in reference to CM Punk. I don’t know what to make of the comment, whether Ziggler actually feels animosity at Punk for doing what he did or what he’s said, or whether it was a jibe thrown in good fun at an ex colleague.
Punk responded to the comment on his twitter account: “Wasted arrows.”
The authority comes out, minus the power couple. Rollins and Ziggler share verbal sparring. These two not only match each other in the athletics department, but they are a good match on the mic. A feud between these two in the future would be so exciting to watch.
Rollins is called a coward for running away from Lesnar on Monday, and Bryan joins in teasing the members of the Authority on their decimation at the hands of the Beast.
This is interesting. Daniel Bryan and the others are referring to Lesnar as somebody that they themselves don’t really have to worry about. Not that he’s a friend, or an ally, but that he is an entity all on his own. A force of nature. It solidifies Brock’s status as a ‘tweener going into this Sunday’s triple threat against Cena and Rollins (super-face and mega-heel).
Kane takes over and tells Ziggler that although he probably wants an IC title rematch, he can’t have one because as technically a new employee, he’s bottom of the ladder. But he does make a non-title match with Bad News Barrett to happen immediately.
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. BAD NEWS BARRETT:
Michael Cole says that Dolph Ziggler, like Daniel Bryan later tonight, will lose his entry in the Royal Rumble match if he loses to Barrett. Was that something Kane was supposed to get across? Because he didn’t. How was Cole privy to this information? He seemed to know it right away. He also informs us that Rowan will be facing Luke Harper and Ryback will be facing Rusev, both matches with the same stipulation.
Some nice arm locks and headlocks to start off. Barrett brawls with big kicks and forearms, Ziggler responds with a lovely dropkick. An attempt to vault over Bad News is caught and Ziggler takes a hard kick to the gut. Barrett sends the Show Off shoulder-first into the ring post.
Paxton says that Barrett has been on a such a roll since returning to action, winning the Intercontinental Championship and all. He fails to mention Barrett’s two non-title losses since gaining that championship, however.
Cole calls a Paxton mouth-piece for the Authority. Okay, so he’s the heel commentator. Good to know. I wish he sounded a bit more distinct from Cole, I have trouble telling who’s talking sometimes.
Barrett works on Ziggler’s arm and Dolph cries bloody murder. I love his selling so much.
After a big swinging DDT, Ziggler’s unable to capitalize and Barrett continues to work him over. He misses a corner rush and puts himself shoulder-first into the ring post, and there is no mention from the announce team of Barrett’s shoulder injury which put him out of action for months.
Ziggler rallies with a war cry. He hits a corner splash followed by a neck-breaker, a big elbow drop, and gets a near fall. He misses the Famous-er (stupid name for a move) but goes for a school-boy and gets a two. Barrett boots Ziggler in the gut but misses with the Bull Hammer. Ziggler lands a superkick and the Zig Zag and gets the pin.
Ziggler qualifies for the Rumble, and Barrett’s hot streak as IC Champ continues.
What follows is a re-cap of the Raw Reunion, the Ascension’s humiliation, and a reminder of their tag match at Rumble with the New Age Outlaws.
BACKSTAGE WITH ROMAN REIGNS:
Reigns continues to pay homage to WWE legends and put down the Big Show. He says that Big Show continually reminds people that he is a giant, and it’s not impressive. He reminds people of a great man who didn’t have to go around reminding everyone he was a giant, and that was Andre “the Giant”… You’re right Roman. He didn’t go around telling people he was a giant, because he actually incorporated it into his name.
Aside from being confused about nomenclature, this was the best promo I’ve seen from Reigns in months. He seemed relaxed, confident, and most importantly it didn’t seem like it was written for him. It was similar to the “Superman” promos he was giving back in December, before all this Looney Toons / storytelling garbage.
He talked about “carving out his path” in the company and emphasized “earning” his spot, which I interpret as response to critics who feel he has gotten a free ride. He says “I don’t have friends”, but what about Dean Ambrose? In probably his best line of the night, he says that in the Royal Rumble match, “it’s one versus all, and I’m the one. Believe that.” Sploosh.
THE RUMBLE TUMBLER (PART ONE):
From off camera, Dean Ambrose picks a number. Sneakily, he compares it with Fandango’s and after a moment of consideration takes it instead.
RYBACK VS. RUSEV
Rusev, looking slightly more swelled up than usual, starts his match with heel evasion tactics. After getting knocked down with a shoulder tackle, he rolls to the outside to regroup. Ditto when a suplex attempt is reversed. Ryback hits the champ with forearms and rams his shoulder into his gut in the corner, but Rusev takes control after a huge dropkick.
Ryback’s knee is targeted, Rusev slams it off the apron and ring post. A big scoop slam, Rusev incites boos from the crowd. The same spot again, scoop slam and boos (stalling?). Rusev smacks Ryback around and yells at him, and Ryback hits a slingshot side suplex. He rallies, reversing a scoop slam and hits a British Bulldog-style running powerslam.
Rusev misses a kick and Ryback lifts him onto his back for a fall-away slam, getting a near fall. He tries for a powerbomb, but Rusev lifts him on his shoulders before slamming him back down hard.
It’s at this point I am realizing how long this match has been going, and have to give props. Rusev and Ryback have become masters of the squash match in their own rights, and to see them having an extended, back and forth contest is refreshing and encouraging.
They get into a slug-fest which ends with Ryback hitting a nice belly-to-belly suplex. Ryback goes to the top rope, but the foreign power knocks him off balance, then connects with a kick to the head. Rusev, enraged, puts his foot down on Ryback’s spine and goes for the Accolade submission. Ryback powers his way out and hits a spinebuster.
Ryback rallies for the Meat Hook clothesline, the crowd chants, but Rusev rolls to the outside again. Ryback follows, pounds on the Bulgarian’s back and throws him to the barricade. He continues to pummel his enemy until the referee hits a count of nine, and just makes it back in to beat the count of ten. Ryback wins by count out, and qualifies for the Rumble.
Rusev blindsides Ryback and puts the kicks to him, but Ryback hits the big clothesline. He goes for Shell Shock, but Rusev escapes. This feud is far from over and hotter than ever.
This match was great, and the outcome made sense from a booking stand-point. Both competitors look strong, and Rusev continues to exhibit some fine heel traits. It seems at first like a bit of a cowardly move on Ryback’s part, beating Rusev into a count-out victory, but it was played nicely. It seemed like Ryback was honestly just so intent on beating on the villain that he didn’t realize the count was so high, and just reacted. Nice job, everyone. Gold stars.
NAOMI VS BRIE BELLA
Brie and Nikki speak in a pre-recorded promo, taking shots at Paige and Natty. They say Natty’s only friends are cats and Paige is too pale. Nikki actually plays like she doesn’t get something Brie says and Brie has to explain it to her. Are they playing dumb? I don’t get it.
Naomi starts off firing offensive moves, but Brie takes control with hard forearms. She hits a low dropkick and actually pulls off a nice running bulldog, getting a two-count.
“Brie mode!”… She’s still using that. Anyway, she misses and it creates an opportunity for Naomi, who hits a clothesline. Naomi hits a kick but a second one is caught, and Brie hits her finisher for the win.
This wasn’t a bad match, it had some nice spots and the two competitors work well off each other. It was just hard to get into because of the detached banter going on at ringside. Paige and Natalya are playing this angle of “we’re not friends, we just have a common enemy”, all the while taking passive and not-so-passive shots at one another. Paige calls Tyson Kidd an idiot, which is funny.
But this is one of the problems I have with the Diva division these days. Every match you have one or more other Divas on commentary, and instead of contributing to and building up the in-ring action, they detract, belittle and distract from it. They make the personal relationships more important than the physical battles, which works for reality TV, but not for sports entertainment.
Jerry Lawler, I thought, had outgrown his sexist comments. Serves me right. Just before going to break, he remarks on the intense rivalry between the Bellas and the new frenemies: “I love the catty-ness, and I love the puppy-ness.” Lord.
LUKE HARPER PROMO:
Talks about facing Eric Rowan. Warns him that monsters live inside his head. Tells him he should be afraid.
THE RUMBLE TUMBLER (PART TWO):
Goldust spins the tumbler (which to me looks like it contains more than thirty numbered balls) while Stardust giggles and hisses cryptic comments about destiny. Each draws a number. Goldust says, “Every man for himself”, and Stardust repeats the sentiment. Then they hiss at each other.
LUKE HARPER VS ERIC ROWAN:
At least the announce team say something about these two men being former teammates, “like brothers”. But they still haven’t offered any explanation as to what happened between them. Will they ever? Or is this just one of those questions we shouldn’t ask?
This match is a brawl between two bull elephants with moments of amazing athleticism. Big forearms, big boots, clotheslines and bodyslams.
Rowan goes for a powerbomb but Harper wows the crowd and announce team by turning it into a hurracanrana. After a corner splash from Rowan, Harper catches him with a big dropkick.
Big red seems to have a bit of a limited move set, as he hits three corner splashes in a row, but makes up for it a bit with a nicely executed spin kick. He goes for another powerbomb and hits it this time. He goes to the top rope, but ends up missing a big splash.
Harper delivers a superkick, follows it up with a spinning clothesline, and pins Rowan one, two, three.
Eric Rowan is out of the Rumble, and the feud (may? will? should? won’t?) continue.
BACKSTAGE WITH THE AUTHORITY:
Kane asks to borrow J&J Security for his match with Daniel Bryan. Seth Rollins complies, getting over the fact that it is very important they prevent Daniel Bryan from entering the Rumble match.
I get why it’s important to the Authority, but why is it important to Rollins? It seems like these were Triple H’s lines, but he wasn’t able to say them himself, so they went to Rollins.
BACKSTAGE WITH THE MIZ AND DAMIEN MIZDOW:
Mizdow apologizes for his behaviour on Raw. Miz is a total egotistical prick and reminds Mizdow how nobody cares about him. He walks away to be in his trailer.
The Usos come over and offer advice to Mizdow, even though they have a championship match coming up at the Rumble. They remind Mizdow that it’s every man for himself in the Royal Rumble match, and there are plenty of opportunities to be a star.
Planting seeds, planting seeds, heavy-handedly planting seeds.
DANIEL BRYAN VS KANE – NO DISQUALIFICATIONS:
Lots of kicking, punching, chops to start off the match. Obviously a lot of bad blood between the two. With help from J&J’s meddling, Kane gets the upper hand and performs a neck-breaker, bringing focus back to Bryan’s surgeries.
Kane brutalizes Bryan on the outside with a press slam across the barricade before grabbing a kendo stick and lacing into the bearded one.
Back inside the ring, Bryan gets the kendo stick and whips Kane, then kicks him, then goes on a flurry of alternating whips and kicks, all to the chorus of “Yes!” chants. Bryan leaps with the kendo stick from the top rope but is caught with a chop to the throat.
Kane takes control. Headlock, big DDT, chair shots to Bryan’s gut and back. The Big Red Machine props the chair in the corner but before it can be used is caught by a Daniel Bryan rally and sent to the outside. Bryan hits a sliding dropkick, but is caught by a punch when attempting a suicide dive. Kane sends Bryan into the steel steps and gives orders to J&J.
Mercury and Noble strip the announce table and bring Bryan over. Kane picks him up for a tombstone piledriver reminiscent of the one which “put Daniel Bryan out of action”, but Bryan escapes. He escapes a chokeslam attempt as well, and succeeds in landing a suicide dive. J&J get into a scuff with Bryan, and as he lays beats into them Kane gets the edge again.
Back in the ring, Kane comes off the top rope, but Daniel Bryan catches his arm and cinches in the Yes! Lock. J&J succeed in breaking the hold, but are unable to keep Bryan down. Bryan hits two running corner dropkicks to each member of the security team before Kane gets him with a chokeslam.
Bryan drop toe-holds an advancing Kane into the steel chair still propped in the corner. With J&J still woozy from his flurry, Daniel Bryan hits a running knee and pins Kane for the win. It’s official, Bryan will compete in the Royal Rumble.
Celebrations at the top of the entrance ramp are cut short by an attack on Bryan by Big Show, who brings the victor back to the ring where the Authority continues their assault on the underdog. Michael Cole uses his favourite expression for a beat-down, calling the attack a”mugging”.
From the back come the faces to the rescue: Ziggler, Ryback, Rowan. But after a moment more heels show up: Cesaro,Titus O’Neil and others. Pretty soon every superstar on the roster (or just about), race down the aisle and fill up the ring with humanity. An all-out brawl ensues.
Reminding the fans who the important players are, Dean Ambrose’s music hits and the denim-clad loose cannon races in by his lonesome. After a few seconds of further brawling, Roman Reigns’ music hits and the powerhouse makes his way through the crowd.
The ring, bit by bit, empties of superstars until it’s only the pivtoal faces left standing: Ziggler, Ryback, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. Preventing this from being too awkward a moment, Big Show and Kane stand on the apron, and all seven competitors exchange stares. Smackdown fades to black as we hear Big Show reminding the faces: “It’s every man for himself, boys.”
The match was good. Daniel Bryan and Kane always work well together, even when Kane is looking a bit stiff and tired. I enjoyed the fact that nobody came to help Bryan during the match even though he was outnumbered. One of the things that endeared us to the plucky grappler in 2013 was his ability and willingness to take on two or three opponents at one time and overcome.
The ending is typical of go-home episodes before the Royal Rumble; a huge brawl involving the whole locker room and singling out the favourites. They did this same thing going into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30. Whereas in that case they pointedly made Big Show look like the obvious winner only to swerve on the audience last minute, this time they gave us a list of choices.
Conspicuous by his absence was Bray Wyatt, who has been gaining heat going into the event and received an endorsement from Shawn Michaels on last Monday’s Legends Panel.
The stage is now set for the first big live event of 2015, and we in the wrestling community have a difficult task before us: predicting the outcome.