WWE Thursday Night Smackdown – April 16th, 2015
Once again coming live from London’s O2 Arena, the fed’s blue brand focused it’s action around the members of the mid-card that will most get over with the crowd. Being on international soil, the episode was a glorified house show, focusing more on entertainment value than story advancement.
Amongst highs and lows, squashes and spots, WWE unveiled two new stipulations for matches at Extreme Rules, featured championship belts and some fun character bits.
- Cena opens the show with his US Open Challenge. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd challenge, and Daniel Bryan joins Cena to even the odds. Tag match is set for main event.
- Bray Wyatt vs R-Truth: Wyatt wins with Sister Abigail.
- Segment of Roman Reigns interview shown, addresses Big Show.
- The Miz vs Bad News Barrett: Barrett wins with Bull Hammer.
- Backstage with Damien Mizdow and Summer Rae: Miz interrupts, rematch is set for Monday on Raw with stipulation that winner keeps “Miz” brand.
- Shaemus vs Neville: after a bit of tough talking from the Celtic Warrior to start, Neville controls the majority of the match with high impact spots. Shaemus slams Neville on the announce table and gets himself disqualified. Beat-down ensues until Dolph Ziggler steps in, brief back and forth between the superstars ends with stipulation being added to their match at Extreme Rules – a “Kiss Me Arse” match.
- Los Matadores vs New Day: Big E gets the pin after he and Kofi hit their tandem finisher.
- Backstage, Fandango kisses Rosa Mendes goodbye. As she stands forlorn, Adam Rose drops a flirty hint.
- Big Show cuts promo on Roman Reigns which amounts to a stipulation added to their match at Extreme Rules – “Last Man Standing” match.
- Natalya vs Alicia Fox vs Cameron: after multiple near falls and broken sharpshooters, Fox hits scissor kick on Natalya and Cameron steals the pin for the victory.
- Fandango vs Adam Rose: Rosa Mendes comes down and distracts Rose, Fandango schoolboys for the pin.
- Bray Wyatt cuts promo.
- Daniel Bryan & John Cena vs Cesaro & Tyson Kidd: Cena double-teamed by the heels for majority of bout, hits hot tag to Bryan. Bryan rallies on heels, puts Yes! Lock on Kidd, who submits, while Cena hits AA on Cesaro.
- I appreciated that Cena took the time to explain a Russian chain match to the fans. Cesaro and Kidd coming out was a bit out of character and out of nowhere – even more so was the involvement of Daniel Bryan, but it fit the “house show” feel of the episode. Like the main events which occur around Christmas time, this match is not about furthering story so much as it is about giving the fans to see a stacked match. The tag champs were great on the mic, I’m really enjoying the way they’ve evolved their gimmick together. Cena was hamming up his reactions a bit too much for my liking, but Daniel Bryan was sharp as ever.
- The announce team called Bray Wyatt’s appearance in the ring “rare”, and are really trying to build more mystique around him, much like they did with Brock Lesnar. It definitely works for the character. Wyatt is a special talent with star quality, and he cannot be overused. That being said, I don’t know how much he benefits from another squash match with R-Truth. Truth, to his credit, made the Eater of Worlds look stellar.
- After a a great in-ring interview on Raw, Reigns sucked the electricity from the room as he spoke one on one with Byron Saxton. I’m still waiting to feel some fire, some passion. I haven’t been moved by one thing Reigns has said, and it makes it very difficult to get behind him.
- The Miz was knocked out by the local favourite Barrett in less than a minute. Nothing was gained from this match. These two were battling over the Intercontinental Championship last year at WrestleMania. This was a cheap pop for the hometown crowd, when what they probably wanted to see more was an actual match.
- Mizdow and Miz are fighting on Monday Night Raw, the winner of the match will lay claim to the Miz gimmick, including entrance music, costume, name, etc. It seems strange that a match with special circumstances is occurring a week before Extreme Rules. I can only hope they are going to build so the blow-out can happen on the Pay-Per-View instead of on television.
- Shaemus is reveling in his new heel gimmick and I am loving his new entrance. The way he belittled Neville before the match began was driven home by Neville’s intense stare – and the insertion of his mouth-guard which was perfectly timed and captured by cameras (good job, Kevin Dunn). The match was similar to what we saw on Raw with Ziggler, Neville controlling much of the match and exhibiting his exciting move-set. The team continue to book Neville incredibly strong. In the short time he has been on the main roster he has gone toe to toe with some of the top talent and almost come out on top. It will be interesting to see with whom he will be paired for his first major program.
- On the flip side of this segment: the “Kiss My Arse” match. Even though it might fit the arrogant nature of Shaemus’ new character, it does not seem to fit the feud with Ziggler – who seems hesitant to put the lame stipulation over. The opportunity to have a gimmick match at Extreme Rules is a chance to play on a wrestler’s strengths, and this feels like a squandering of that opportunity.
- New Day are becoming a lot more interesting to watch. I find myself now compelled, wondering when and how they will “snap”. Perhaps because of this investment in watching, I found the match with the matadors quite entertaining. These are talented wrestlers, all of them, and they deserve better than comedy heat.
- I was under the impression that Adam Rose and Fandango had their brief feud and were moving on, but I suppose I was wrong. Creative has, apparently, nothing else for them.
- Big Show is becoming a great talker, but his promo tonight seemed to plod. It was simply exhibition, giving a play by play of the beat-down that occurred Monday Night. Big Show is trying so hard to put Reigns over as a man who doesn’t know how to quit, who doesn’t give up. It seems like he’s been charged with the task of building him up, but I’m not sure how well it is working. Reigns isn’t facing Brock Lesnar anymore, his target is Seth Rollins, so pairing him with a giant doesn’t seem to fit. He needs a program with someone of substance and ability – a real challenge as a wrestler, not just a big tree to cut down. “Last Man Standing” match at Extreme Rules? Okay, it fits. It’s not a “Kiss Me Arse” match or a “Cry Baby” match, at least.
- The triple threat Divas match was quite good, despite a couple of botched spots. Cameron is coming into her own as a heel, and a program with Alicia Fox would be just what she needs to develop further as an in-ring worker, which seems to be what will occur after the way this match ended. Natalya continues to look like a veteran schooling the younger talent, as well as being the most consistent Diva on the main roster, with possibly the exception of Fox. Cheers to these three performing a super-plex / power-bomb combo move from the top rope! Great spot.
- Fandango continues to get over his new face turn, but one has to wonder how well it will play in front of American crowds. Rosa Mendes doesn’t seem attracted to Adam Rose at all, and Rose seems only half interested in girls, leaving me to wonder what kind of strange triangle they are attempting to develop.
- Despite appearing in the ring earlier, Wyatt cuts another cryptic promo. It’s become a guessing game among the announce team as to whom he is speaking.
- The main event was your standard, text-book tag match, and despite the amount of talent in the ring at one time the action wasn’t as good as it perhaps could have been. The real story of the match is the tag champions, who eat their second loss in a week. Granted, losing to the two most over faces in the company and current champions is much better than losing to Randy Orton in a handicap match, and losing matches to the best of the company’s talent is better than losing to mid-carders like New Day or Los Matadores, but the facts are that Cesaro and Kidd are not being put over as champs nearly as strongly as they should. Natalya getting knocked off by mistake is a spot that has been performed twice in the last month: by Blake & Murphy/Enzo & Cass and Carmella in NXT; and by Rusev and Lana at WrestleMania. The flat-out dropping of Natalya by Cesaro was a beautiful touch, but it was almost lost on the television audience even though it got massive reaction from the house. Overall entertaining, the match itself fell short of its potential – as did the entire show.