SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Smackdown begins full-time on the USA Network tonight, debuting a new lead announcer in Mauro Ranallo. In addition, two titles are on the line: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Title; and Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch for the Divas Title.
WWE Smackdown review
January 7, 2016
Taped 1/5/16 in Laredo, Texas
Aired on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– Last Monday night: Mr. McMahon was special referee for the Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus WWE World Title match, in which the aftermath revealed that Reigns would be defending his title in the Royal Rumble match. It was a relatively quick video package for all the happenings that took place in that segment.
– Smackdown Open, same as the one on SyFy.
– Byron Saxton’s voice opened the show as he and Jerry “The King” Lawler previewed Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship tongiht.
– Also on the line tonight: The Divas Title, when Charlotte faces Becky Lynch.
– Close-up to Lawler at ringside, who welcomed the new voice (and face) of Smackdown, Combat Sports veteran announcer Mauro Ranallo. Ranallo said it was a dream come true, then he introduced the “ubiquitous” Byron Saxton, who sat beside him.
– John Cena was first out in the arena. Cena noted Smackdown’s new home (though not the first-ever Smackdown on USA Network, as Cena said). He did some more cheerleading and previewing the show. Master of Ceremonies, John Cena. Cena said, with being on the USA Network, we’re missing the USA Champion. Cena said not many people like him, but he did want to introduce the USA Champion, Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio then walked out. Cena gave some mock applause to Del Rio. This promo is making it really hard for me to imagine missing Cena while he’s out with his injury.
Del Rio entered the ring and told Cena he thinks he’s trying to weasel his way into another title opportunity he doesn’t deserve. Del Rio said it won’t work tonight. Cena got the crowd behind him, making sure they wanted a title match despite Del Rio’s objections. Del Rio spoke more Spanish here than usual, given they are in Laredo. He told Cena tonight. So while he doesn’t want to give Cena a title shot, he will fight anyone, as long as it’s not Cena. Cena implored Del Rio give someone an opportunity, and he had a suggestion: Kalisto. Kalisto of course came right out, somehow knowing that not only would Del Rio deny Cena a title shot, but also that Del Rio would say that he’d fight anyone and that Cena would choose him.
Del Rio called Kalisto “little man” after Cena and Kalisto teamed up on the “Lucha!” chant. Kalisto said he’d beat Del Rio right now. He took Del Rio down with a headscissors and an official materialized out of thin air. We’ve got a match.
1 – ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. KALISTO
This, as noted by Ranallo, was a non-title match. Del Rio tried to take a time out at ringside early on in the match. Kalisto was clearly in his head as they went to break 50 seconds into it.
Back at 3:54 and Del Rio was on offense back in the ring. Kalisto was hung up in the ropes, hanging outside the ring, and Del Rio connected with a running kick. Cena was still at ringside, cheering on Kalisto. Del Rio caught Kalisto in the Tree of Woe, and continued clobbering him. Kalisto lifted himself up on a shoulder charge. Seated senton off the top by Kalisto. Del Rio caught a hurricanrana attempt and powerbombed his opponent for a two-count at 6:43. DDT by Del Rio, which led to Del Rio going outside the ring and taunting Cena. Cena took his shirt off, by didn’t get physical. Instead, he watched as Del Rio tossed Kalisto into the barricade. Back in, Del Rio continued giving Cena his attention, and as he set up his arm-breaker finish, Kalisto countered into a hurricanrana and pinning combination for the win.
WINNER: Kalisto, at 8:52. Good showcase for Kalisto, and nice to get the win and the rub from Cena. He’d be a fun secondary title contender with Sin Cara out.
The finish was replayed. Cena celebrated with Kalisto.
– The announcers pushed the WWE Network.
– The Divas Championship is on the line tonight when Becky Lynch challenges Charlotte.
– Lynch was warming up backstage when JoJo walked up to her. Lynch noted Charlotte is her former best friend. She also said she doesn’t need an explanation for what Charlotte did on Raw; instead, she’s looking for vindication tonight. Lynch said when she takes the title from Charlotte, it’ll be anything but friendly. Great delivery by Lynch during that promo.
– Miz TV, advertised as a “Royal Rumble special,” is next.
– The Miz was in the ring for Miz TV. Miz talked about the stakes of the Royal Rumble this year. Before he could say much more, Big E.’s voice erupted over the PA and he and New Day came out. Big E.’s wanted to make it clear they are not “rooty, tooty, booty,” despite what Chris Jericho says. Xavier Woods said they party like it’s 2016, not like it’s 1999. Kofi Kingston said 2016 would be the year of the unicorn, but then Dolph Ziggler’s music interrupted. Speaking of being stuck in another decade. Ziggler gave some lip to New Day AND Miz, and was about to talk about the Rumble match when Goldust came out.
Goldie said Miz TV has gotten bizarre. He said only one Superstar can win the Rumble match, but he’ll be happy to give everyone a set of Golden Globes. I’m not even sure what that means in this context. Miz was getting very upset at the interruptions, and to exacerbate the issue, Neville came out. He had a promise for Miz: He said Miz can borrow his Slammy, his accent…but in return, Miz has to promise to cancel Miz TV. At least, that’s what I think he meant; he said “cancel this ridiculous show,” so he could’ve been talking about Smackdown. R-Truth was next out. He wanted to accept Del Rio’s U.S. Open Challenge. Miz had to tell him there was no U.S Open Challenge. Truth asked him what the entry fee was to get in the Rumble. Miz told him there’s no entry fee and if he gives Truth a dollar, will he buy a clue? New Day liked that burn.
Truth bopped Miz in the head with the mic and the babyfaces cleaned house, except for Xavier, who was sitting in the director’s chair eating popcorn. Neville kicked him out of the chair and Woods rolled to ringside. He was consoled by his teammates and because of the awkward transition to break, I’m assuming we’ll be back with a multi-man tag.
2 – THE MIZ & NEW DAY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & GOLDUST & NEVILLE & R-TRUTH
This match, which Ranallo called a “first-time ever” match-up, was joined in progress. I hope when this match is inevitably released on the Greatest Matches of Smackdown DVD, they’ll add the footage shot during the break. Ziggler caught Kingston with a nice dropkick, but a cover only netted him a one-count. Truth worked Kofi’s arm after he tagged in. Neville with a standing shooting star press for two. Back body-drop by Neville. Eventually, Neville was dumped to the outside by Kingston as they cut to break with 3:57 of the match having been shown thus far.
New Day was stomping a mud-hole into Neville with their Unicorn Stampede. Miz danced along with New Day, poorly, I might add. Neville ended up back-dropping Woods outside the ring. Both teams made tags. Ziggler came in and went on offense before the match began to break down. Truth tried to show off his dance moves to Miz. Miz tried to escape, presumably rather than continue to watch Truth, but instead was caught by Goldust and superkicked by Ziggler for the pin.
WINNERS: Ziggler, Goldust, Neville, and Truth, around 11:11. Just a way to get the mid-carders some shine before they’re expected to be contenders in the Royal Rumble match.
After the match, Ziggler superkicekd his partner, R-Truth, then threw Goldust out of the ring. In case we weren’t sure, Ziggler yelled to Goldust that it was no offense, but that’s what the Rumble match is all about.
– Ric Flair and Charlotte were walking backstage. JoJo came upon them and noted Charlotte was defeated on Raw by the person she’ll be defending her title against tonight. Ric took exception to that and Charlotte agreed that Lynch was leeching off of her. Charlotte said the way Ric has lived his entire life is how a champion acts. Well, maybe not his ENTIRE life. Let’s be reasonable here.
– Charlotte and her dad made their way to the ring. The Divas title is on the line next.
3 – CHARLOTTE vs. BECKY LYNCH – WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Before the match, they showed the end of Lynch vs. Charlotte from Monday night. Eden Stiles handled formal ring introductions. Lynch and Charlotte engaged in a shoving match early on. Ranallo noted that he called Lynch’s matches in British Columbia when she was only 18. Lawler basically blew him off and said now she’s in WWE and that’s all that matters. I’m sure he got a bonus from McMahon for regurgitating that line. Then again, Lawler does seem to be playing more of a heel on this show than in the past. A couple of pin attempts by both Lynch and Charlotte. Charlotte pulled Becky’s hair to take her down. Lynch responded with a dropkick and arm-drag. Charlotte found herself on the apron. Springboard side-kick by Lynch dropped Charlotte to the floor. Lynch backed Ric away from his daughter and sent her back in. Charlotte escaped out of the ring and Ric stood between the two women, not allowing Lynch at Charlotte. When he finally moved, Charlotte booted Lynch down. Overhead suplex by Charlotte. She followed that up with stomps. Charlotte was in firm control as they went to break at 6:08 of the match.
Back at 9:10 with Charlotte still dominating. Lynch picked up Charlotte in an electric chair, but dropped her face-first across the top turnbuckle. That began Lynch’s comeback, which included Ranallo’s first “we have a new champion…no” near-fall call. Chops by Charlotte. Backslide was reversed, but Lynch caught her with an exploder suplex for two. Lynch went for a submission, but Charlotte powered her off the mat. Roll-up by Lynch for two. Dis-Armer applied. However, Ric lifted Charlotte’s foot and put it on the rope for a break. Charlotte retained the title with a roll-up and her feet on the ropes.
WINNER: Charlotte, at 13:42. Really fun match, perhaps Charlotte’s best since her promotion to the main roster. I’m not sure that they needed to do that finish yet again after it feels like we’ve seen it for weeks.
– The announcers reflected on the previous match, then transitioned to showing what happened on Raw between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose.
– Renee Young caught up to Owens backstage, asking for a minute of his time. Owens took that seriously. Owens said he’s fine after being put through a table by Ambrose on Raw. Owens said he’s a world-class athlete and nothing will stop him from taking back his title. Owens said cockroaches like Ambrose can’t survive him.
– We’ll see what happened on Raw during the WWE World Title Match, then hear from Roman Reigns.
– Quentin Tarantino gave a shout-out to the WWE Universe before giving viewers a sneak peek to his Hateful Eight movie.
– The announcers reacted to the Total Divas commercial that aired prior to coming to them. Then Ranallo pitched it to the Raw Rebound. This was a more protracted recap than at the top of the show.
– Ranallo sent it to a video from WWE.com of Young interviewing Reigns post-Raw. She asked for his reaction to Mr. McMahon’s announcement. Reigns said the McMahon family is just firing him up. He said it’s one versus all, and he’ll be the last one standing as champion.
– Renee Young was backstage with Dean Ambrose. She said the rivalry between Ambrose and Owens has gotten out of hand. She asked what we could expect from them tonight. Ambrose recapped all they’ve done to each other. He said Owens talks about being a prizefighter and tonight, the Intercontinental Title is the prize, “so let’s fight.”
4 – DEAN AMBROSE vs. KEVIN OWENS – WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Formal ring introductions for this one, too. The competitors jockeyed for position within a collar-and-elbow tie-up. Owens regrouped on the outside after Ambrose got too much of him, with the showing going to break at 1:10 of the match.
Back at 5:25 with Owens chopping at Ambrose in the corner. Ambrose seemed to be inviting the shots. Eventually, he turned the tables and stomped Owens. Byron Saxton said Ambrose was tapping into his “arsenal of randomness.” Basement clothesline followed by an elbowdrop for a one-count. Owens took back over on offense and mocked Ambrose. They went outside the ring again, with Ambrose reversing a whip and sending Owens into the barricade. Running lariat off the apron by Ambrose. Owens caught Ambrose coming back in with a DDT. The show cut to break again at 8:51.
Back at 12:59 with Ambrose being held in a rear chinlock. Ambrose fired back with clotheslines once he made it to a vertical base. Dirty Deeds was blocked a second time by Owens. German suplex by Owens. Ambrose booted Owens in the face on a charge and a Tornado DDT notched him a two-count. Owens stopped Ambrose from coming off the top rope and connected on his corner cannonball for two. The men traded their pet moves, ending with a Lunatic Lariat from Ambrose for a near-fall. Ambrose took out Owens outside the ring, leading to Owens spilling over the announce table and at the feet of Ranallo. Ambrose stood atop the announce table. Owens was allowed enough time to recover, throwing Ambrose into the steel steps. Ambrose then tossed Owens into the crowd. Double axe-handle onto Owens in the crowd. At that point, the bell rang to signal a double count-out.
WINNER: Double count-out, at 18:42.
The men continued their brawl through the crowd. They fought on the stage, with Ambrose throwing Owens into the WWE logo. Ambrose then launched himself off the stage and onto Owens. Referees came out, but they didn’t seem like they wanted to break things up too badly. Ambrose ended up giving Ambrose a back body-drop on a WWE production trunk. Off of that they fell through a couple tables, still out in front of the crowd. Referees tried to tend to the two men while Ranallo signed off by saying, “the hottest rivalry in WWE continues.”
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Greg Parks has been covering WWE Smackdown for PWTorch.com since January of 2007. He is the host of “Moonlighting with Greg Parks,” a PWTorch VIP-exclusive audio show posted each weekend. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks for live Tweeting during Raw, Impact, and PPVs, as well as other bits of wisdom. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.