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WWE Thursday Night Smackdown – May 7th, 2015

Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario (just an overnight drive from Thunder Bay) hosts the blue brand as the East Canada tour comes to a close.

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The Fatal Four-Way main event at Payback for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is put in focus in the night’s main event, as all participants come together for the formal contract signing. Before then, however, the mid-card and tag team divisions get their time in the spotlight as Thursday Night Smackdown delivers (in thirty minutes or free). The word of the night is “dissension”.

THE RUN-DOWN:

  • Jerry “The King” Lawler introduces King Barrett in the ring, who proceeds to disrespect and threaten the (self-proclaimed) King. When a Royal Bull-Hammer is teased, Dolph Ziggler steps in to help Lawler.
  • King Barrett vs Dolph Ziggler: Fame-Asser is hit on Barrett, but Sheamus breaks up the pin, calling for the disqualification. Beat-down ensues until Neville comes to help Ziggler.
  • King Barrett & Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler & Neville: Barrett tries to cheat on his school-boy pin with a rope assist, which is foiled by Neville. Ziggler hits the Zig-Zag and gets the pin-fall on Barrett.
  • Backstage: Dean Ambrose tells Rene Young that chaos is the weapon to fight authority.
  • Luke Harper vs Fandango: Harper hits a superkick and a discus clothesline for the victory. Erick Rowan comes to the ring and beats down Fandango as Harper watches.
  • Lana in-ring promo: she thanks the people and tells them not to cheer for her, for it angers Rusev. Rusev comes down and sends Lana away, then cuts promo on John Cena.
  • Backstage: Roman Reigns tells Rene Young that Ambrose will do what it takes to win, but it won’t be enough.
  • The New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro & Ryback: Bray Wyatt sound distracts Ryback, Kofi rolls up Kidd for the win.
  • Backstage: Randy Orton tells Rene Young that one ex-member of the Shield will not make it to Payback.
  • Emma vs Naomi (with Tamina): Rearview is hit, Naomi gets the victory. Tamina and Naomi beat down Emma after the match.
  • Backstage: Seth Rollins tells Rene Young that he is the champion, Kane is obsolete and jealous, and the future is now.
  • Los Matadores vs The Lucha Dragons: Fernando is caught in small package by Sin Cara, gets pinned. Fernando, incensed, shoves El Torito, and the team argues in the ring.
  • Fatal Four-Way Contract Signing: Kane invites down all four participants. Rollins plants seeds of dissension between the three faces, and eventually the meeting becomes a brawl. After many chaotic exchanges, Reigns is thrown into Ambrose which causes a face-off, Orton hits RKO on Ambrose, Reigns hits Superman Punch on Orton, Rollins hits flying knee on Reigns. Rollins stands tall to close the show.

ANALYSIS:

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  • It was nice to see King Barrett opening the show. The King of the Ring tournament received limited coverage, and Barrett’s new gimmick needed some air-time to give it legitimacy, otherwise WWE runs the risk of fans tuning into the show and being completely bewildered by his crown and cape. Using Lawler as a segue to get over Barrett’s vanity and aggression was a natural.

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  • Ziggler and Barrett have worked so often together, as this match’s fluidity showed. It seemed an interesting booking choice to have an in-ring interview segment segue to a singles match only to segue in turn to a tag team match, and I think it shows WWE creative’s attempt to cut down on air-time spent on talking heads. In other times, this segment would have Barrett berate Lawler, then Ziggler would confront Barrett, then Sheamus would spout off on Ziggler, and finally Neville would inject himself. Only then would some general manager step in, do more talking, and then finally a tag team match would be made and we’d see some action. I’m glad they went straight into the action instead.

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  • The tag match had very little interaction between Ziggler and Sheamus, so I was spared more moments of wondering whether or not they will kill each other. On that note, Sheamus is nowhere near as stiff with Neville, which is good (for the rookie). The ending did nothing good for Barrett, and only fueled his desire to further pursue Neville as an annoyance and a threat to his pride.

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  • The match between Harper and Fandango felt like a good, old-fashioned heel vs face match. Harper came out in the dark with the sinister music, and the announce team got over how unhinged and scary he is. A polar opposite in every way, Fandango entered to people cheering and dancing, with colour and happy music and smiles all around. What followed was a textbook wrestling match; nothing super fancy, just basic and solid. Harper got the victory, which was good for him and bad for Fandango, but the dancer continues to build his status as a consistent worker on the roster. It occurred to me during the match that he has been elevated to “R-Truth” status – with the absence of a main event push, of course. Erick Rowan coming to possibly win over and align himself back with Harper is a great move. Harper is a great singles wrestler, but Rowan is not, and the two of them as a tag team have been sorely missed in the ranks of the division.

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  • Lana having her own music and showing up in the ring to address the WWE Universe on her own is indicative of a firm push, but she only got one sentence out before Rusev came in and sent her away. I feel she should have been given just a bit more time to put her angle over, because as it was, it just seemed a bit pointless. Also lacking a real point was Rusev’s promo. What he said did not warrant a whole in-ring segment, it could have been accomplished with a pre-taped or backstage promo. This makes me think the main purpose was to put over Lana’s conflict – but if that’s the case, why wasn’t more time spent on it?

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  • The six-man tag match contained some nice work from Tyson Kidd (Canada’s own) and some great tandem spots involving Ryback working with the former tag champs. It was never explained why exactly Ryback joined Cesaro and Kidd in their match, which took me out of it a bit, but I stopped thinking about it after the double suspended suplex spot (awesome). The presence of Bray Wyatt teased at the match’s end only affected Ryback, and as such I felt the spot would have been more effective if he had been the one to get pinned instead of Tyson. But the match succeeded in furthering his pseudo-feud with Wyatt, and at the same time keeps New Day relevant while helping to solidify Kidd and Cesaro as babyfaces.

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  • Emma went back to NXT and re-packaged herself as a jaded heel, but the last time we saw her on the main roster she was still happy-go-lucky, so her appearance on this week’s show was a bit awkward. Naomi needs babyfaces to fight in order to get over her aggressive new persona, but unfortunately with AJ Lee gone and Paige out of commission, there are literally no babyface divas aside from The Bellas – and they were heels up until a month ago (I think. I can’t keep track anymore). Emma was the closest WWE had at their disposal, and so this match happens. I can’t help but think it slighted Emma to hear the commentators putting over Naomi’s change of attitude that “being nice and playing by the rules gets you nowhere”. That is pretty much exactly what Emma’s character has been getting over for months now in NXT.

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  • The tag team division is really having to recover and restructure following the dissolution of Goldust and Stardust and the shelving of The Usos. Nothing else could explain Los Matadores potentially turning heel. It makes no sense and it comes completely out of nowhere. What will happen to El Torito? Will he join Hornswoggle and form their own team?
  • As a fan of lucha libre style, I was really looking forward to watching these two teams go at it. The match itself was massively disappointing. Kalisto was the only person who really landed any spots, Fernando and Diego seemed to have lead feet, and Sin Cara botched his suicide dive by unfortunately getting hung up on the ropes. It seemed like it was just an off night, as I know the matadors are capable of so much more. Hopefully a feud will grow between these two teams as the race for the tag championships picks up over the summer.

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  • The contract signing was a chance for all the major studs to strut their stuff and show their strengths. Dean Ambrose came off as a total anti-hero rockstar rebel. Randy Orton played it cool and confident, promising nothing but pain for others and victory for himself. Roman Reigns was strong and straight to the point. And Seth Rollins – well, what can one say about Seth Rollins? He cut a master stroke of a promo once he regained his footing after initially playing the scaredy-cat. He shot on Reigns for having no mic skills, on Orton for only being a star because of his father, and called Ambrose a Roddy Piper wannabe, all while expertly turning the faces against one another.

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  • Everyone in this segment played their parts beautifully, making the best of a contrived segment plagued by predictability. The line of the night belongs to who else but Ambrose, who quickly and calmly sets up the contract signing table in a ring corner and upon Rollins asking him what he’s doing, says “We all know how this is going to go. I call the table!” I marked out unabashedly.

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  • I am glad that the dissension angle, especially between the brothers in arms, Reigns and Ambrose, was finally breached. Despite how hot a heel Rollins may be, the potential clashing of the other two Shield alumni is the most exciting prospect in this fatal four-way, if for no other reason than they are the only two to never square off against one another in a WWE ring. Although this match has the makings of an epic four-way war between the top talent on the roster right now, Kane’s presence still mars the possibility of a clean finish and makes it still likely that we are looking for Rollins to retain and further develop some type of program with the corporate demon, while the other three contenders squabble away at the scraps.

Photos copyright WWE.com

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