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WWE Smackdown!- January 22, 2015

by Scrooge McSuck

- It’s the final push for the Royal Rumble (unless Superstars surprises the hell out of everyone by featuring something relevant to the PPV’s development). In case you missed it on Monday Night Raw, the lead singer from the Police came out and pointed at Triple H while John Cena overcame the odds against Seth Rollins, Kane, and the Big Show, thus earning back the jobs of Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan (… sorry, Cena Wins, LOL).

- We’re taped from Austin, TX, with Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Byron Saxton calling the action, unless otherwise noted.

- Daniel Bryan joins us to kick things off, but his Main Event match isn’t until later in the broadcast. He reminds us of what happened on Monday Night Raw, and what’s on the line in his match tonight with (Corporate) Kane. This segues into the “return” of The Ryback (Bryan said it!), Rowan, and Dolph Ziggler. And you thought the absence of the Authority was short? Talking, talking, more talking (including a cheap shot at CM Punk)… to make a long story short (too late), the three of them will compete in matches tonight to earn spots in the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett:

Non-Title Match, which always spells doom for a Champion. Barrett is already announced for the Rumble, but Ziggler has to win to earn a spot. Lockup and Barrett with a waistlock takedown. Ziggler with a hammerlock, quickly turned into a side headlock. Barrett takes it to the corner and pounds away. Whip, Ziggler ducks under a clothesline, and connects with a dropkick for only a one count. Whip to the corner, Barrett catches Ziggler over his shoulders and lands a punt to the midsection. He sends Ziggler shoulder first to the post, then wraps the arm around it again following more punishment. Back inside, Barrett continues to punish the arm with an assortment of holds. Barrett misses a charge, and Ziggler follows up with a snap DDT for two. We return from a (long) commercial break, with Barrett still working the arm. Barrett with another punt to the midsection, then back to the armbar. Ziggler escapes with a chin-buster and Barrett meets post, missing a charge. Ziggler with a dive into the corner, followed by a swinging neck breaker. He connects with his signature jumping elbow drop for two. Barrett avoids a Fameasser and rolls Ziggler up, but it only gets two. Ziggler with a Super-Kick for a two count of his own. Zig-Zag attempt #1 misses, and Barrett lands with a back kick to the midsection. He sets up for the Bull Hammer, but Ziggler counters with a dropkick, and the Zig Zag finishes at 11:19. **3/4 Good TV match, but that commercial break really killed the flow of the match.

- Earlier this week on Raw Reunion, The Ascension continued being horrible promos, and got their asses handed to them by the New World Order (Nash, Hall, and X-Pac), The New Age Outlaws, and the APA, with JBL, the most vocal of the Ascension in recent weeks, delivering a wicked Clothesline From Hell to cap things off. Set for the Royal Rumble: The Ascension vs. The New Aged Outlaws. I don’t understand who would think a 7-on-2 that favors babyfaces is a great way to get over a new heel tag team.

- Renee Young (and her butchered hair) is standing by with Roman Reigns. Earlier this week on Raw Reunion, Big Show picked a fight with Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair, laying out the latter of the three with the KO Punch. Reigns interrupted the bullying (BE A STAR!) and knocked Big Show over the top rope to make a Royal Rumble statement. Reigns starts off being a poor-man’s Rock, then manages to finish with a decent promo. Could’ve been worse (Sufferin’ Sucotash, anyone?).

- “The New and Improved” Fandango (with the “New and Improved” Rosa) picks his Royal Rumble number… and he seems happy. Dean Ambrose sneaks in from the side and switches numbers. You’re stealing Eddie Guerrero’s bit!

Ryback vs. Rusev (w/ Lana):

In case you missed it, Ryback has to win to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble Match. Rusev is the reigning US Champion, but this is Non-Title. Lana’s legs are still yummy. Lockup, because two men who really don’t like each other should be doing that. Ryback grabs a headlock, then comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Rusev tries to go for a suplex, but Ryback counters with his own and covers for barely a one count. Ryback with shoulders to the midsection and rights. He hits the ropes, only to be greeted by a massive dropkick. He sends Ryback to the floor, as we take a break. We return with Rusev still in control and working on the leg. He changes things up with some choking. Rusev with a pair of slams, about a minute apart. Ryback from out of nowhere with a slingshot back suplex. Whip to the corner and Ryback with a Powerslam for two. Rusev whiffs on the roundhouse kick. Ryback scoops him up and connects with… whatever the fuck that was. It looked like a weird Stunner, but not. Rusev counters a Piledriver with the Alabama Slam for two. Ryback wins a slugfest and takes him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. He goes to the top, but Rusev knocks him off with the jumping heel kick. Rusev goes for the Accolade, but Ryback fights it. He makes it to his feet and takes Rusev down with a spinebuster. Rusev rolls away from the Meat-Hook Clothesline, but Ryback follows him to the floor. He sends Rusev hard into the security barrier, and makes it back into the ring for the Count-Out victory at 13:18. Cheap. Who green-lit them to have that much time?! Post-match, Rusev tries to attack, but Ryback stands tall. 3/4* Not very good. Went too long, with them working a standard formula match, when that’s definitely not either man’s strong point.

Naomi vs. Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella):

Paige and Natayla join the commentary table for this one, to hype their match with the Bella Twins at the Royal Rumble. Holy canned heat, Batman. I haven’t heard fake reactions like that since an episode of WWF Superstars, circa 1990. I guess this was a Total Divas Exclusive Match, where it makes no sense outside of that cesspool of a show’s storylines. Naomi with a quick roll up. Brie whiffs (or does she) on a clothesline, and Naomi connects with her own somersault style. Whip to the ropes, Naomi winds up on the apron, and gets hung up across the top rope. Brie with a running bulldog for two. I’m honestly more into the commentary than this match. Naomi with clotheslines and a boot to the stomach. Brie with the X-Factor, and it’s over at 2:21. ¼*, Yep, that was a Diva’s Match. Post-match, the four divas involved at the Royal Rumble have a staredown, because Nattie’s mini-skirt isn’t approved PG wrestling attire.

- Luke Harper cuts a promo about his upcoming match… with Erick Rowan. I guess that’s our next Royal Rumble Qualifying Match.

- Goldust and Stardust draw their numbers. There’s way more than 30 balls in that tumbler. I CALL SHENANIGANS! They have good poker faces.

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper:

The Wyatt Family EXPLODES! It would be cool if Harper started bringing in his own followers, sort of to carry the torch for Bray Wyatt so Wyatt could move onto something else as far as character development goes. Harper with rights to start. Whip to the corner and Rowan with a big boot for two. He grabs Harper in a bulldog, rams him face-first to the turnbuckle, and plants him with a slam for two. Harper bails, but Rowan tosses him back in and runs through him with a forearm for another near fall. Rowan goes for a Powerbomb, but Harper counters with a HEAD SCISSORS. Whip to the corner and Rowan follows in with a charge. He hits the ropes, but Harper meets him with a dropkick for two. Rowan gets an elbow up on a charge and hip throws Harper into the corner. Rowan with a charge to the corner and a spinning heel kick for two. He goes for Full Nelson, but Harper bites the hands. Powerbomb connects, but only gets two. Rowan to the top rope, but he misses a splash. Harper with a Super-Kick and the Discus Clothesline finishes at 3:19. ** Fun and energetic, but too short. I didn’t expect it to be this much fun. I’m surprised Rowan lost, but at the same time, the babyfaces couldn’t go 4-0 without drawing attention to itself.

- It’s all about the numbers! Check this week's Main Event recap for them, I’m not typing it again.

- Miz chews out Mizdow for thinking the crowd is cheering for him. What a douchebag. Can we please eliminate the word “froth” from the English language? In a poor excuse of continuity, Jimmy (or was it Jey) claims he almost eliminated his own brother, despite them never sharing ring time.

No Disqualification Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Corporate Kane (w/ J & J Security):

Unlike the previous three matches, Daniel Bryan LOSES his spot in the Royal Rumble if he isn’t victorious. Would WWE have the balls to take him out of the match? They did last year. Bryan with rights to start, but Kane easily dominates a slugfest. Whip to the ropes, Bryan ducks under a clothesline, and comes back with a body press. Noble and Mercury with a distraction, allowing Kane to boot him off the apron. Kane follows him to the floor and connects with a neck breaker. Kane pulls a kendo stick from under the ring and plays Whack a Goat with it. Back in the ring, Bryan somehow knocks the kendo stick from Kane’s hands and returns the punishment. He alternates between cane shots and kicks to the delight of the crowd. Bryan to the top rope but Kane interrupts with an uppercut to the throat. Kane tosses him to the floor as we take our last commercial break.

We return with Kane in control with a chinlock. Bryan with elbows to the midsection, but Kane boots him down and comes off the ropes with a DDT for two. Kane with a chair to the midsection, followed by a shot across the back for another two count. Kane wedges the chair between the turnbuckles, which I’m sure will come back to bite him in the ass. Bryan with rights and kicks, then pulls the ropes down on a charging Kane. Bryan with a baseball slide, but a suicide dive is countered with another uppercut. Kane sends Bryan into the steps while Noble and Mercury take apart the Announcer’s Table. Kane scoops him up for a Tombstone, but Bryan shoves him off. He escapes a Chokeslam attempt and sends Kane to the post! Back inside, and right back out with a suicide dive! Bryan continues to put the pressure on, crashing into Kane with his running dropkick. Mercury and Noble intervene, allowing Kane to regain control. Kane to the top rope, but the Flying Clothesline is countered with the Yes-Lock! Here’s Noble and Mercury again to break it up. Bryan fights both off and crashes into both with his running dropkick. Kane recovers and plants him with a Chokeslam for two! Kane grabs another chair, charges, and takes a drop toe hold into the previously introduced chair. Bryan charges out of the corner with the Flying Knee, and it’s good for three at 12:17. *** These two always seem to have great chemistry, and it was kept short enough before it had a chance to start dragging.

- Post-match, Big Show attacks Daniel Bryan during his celebration and it’s a four-on-one beating until Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan run down to even the odds. Here comes Barrett, Luke Harper, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Titus O’Neill, and then it’s Goldust, Stardust, New Day, The Ascension… fuck it, it’s everyone. Finally, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns (with separate musical cues) runs in to join the fun. We’ll see you on Thursday, yes? Who doesn’t love the pre-Rumble brawl between the entire roster? Reigns, Ambrose, Bryan, Ziggler, and Ryback stand tall… one of these men will win the Royal Rumble, and SPOILER: It won’t be Ryback.

Final Thoughts: Taking away the 20-minute opening segment that set the table for the rest of the night, another solid effort from Smackdown. Pretty good (for TV) Main Event, some decent undercard matches between Ziggler/Barrett and and Harper/Rowan, and every segment seemed to serve a purpose towards building to the Royal Rumble. I could’ve done without Rusev/Ryback getting nearly 15-minutes, and yet another 5-minutes devoted to “Royal Rumble by the Numbers”, but the good far outweighs the negative.

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