KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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On this St. Patrick’s Day edition of WWE Smackdown, A.J. Styles clashes with Kevin Owens. Plus, after his emphatic return to Raw Monday night, will Roman Reigns make his presence felt tonight?
WWE Smackdown review
March 17, 2016
Taped 3/15/16 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Aired on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– As we saw in video package form, Roman Reigns returned with vengeance Monday night on Raw.
– In the arena, no fireworks, but we did get the theme for Roman Reigns right off the bat. He emerged through the entranceway. Hopefully that’s now a permanent change. A graphic was shown for Reigns vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania. With the house lights dim, Roman paused, allowing the crowd to react. Reigns said The Big Fight knocked Triple H into next week. He said Hunter wouldn’t be on the show, but knows he’s watching. He said he’s the man standing in Triple H’s ring. The next time they’re in the same area code, he vowed to beat Hunter’s ass again “because I can.” At Wrestlemania, he said he’d destroy Triple H. Reigns said if Hunter is as smart as he says he is, he’ll believe that. Short and to the point, which is what Reigns promos need to be. It came across fine on television with WWE having the ability to control the crowd reaction in post-production.
– Mauro Ranallo, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Byron Saxton were shown on camera. They talked about the Chris Jericho-A.J. Styles feud and they showed Jericho’s turn from two weeks ago. Also shown was Jericho burning a Y2AJ shirt on Smackdown last week. Then on Monday, Jericho cut a post-match promo before being interrupted by a Styles attack.
– Renee Young was backstage with Styles. She asked him about his deteriorating relationship with Jericho. Styles said the WWE Universe can chant for whoever they want. He said Jericho made it personal and it felt good to do what he did on Monday. Styles’ train of thought was interrupted by the appearance of Kevin Owens. Owens said Styles sounds an awful lot like another new guy: Sami Zayn. He said they’re both too stupid to realize that friendship doesn’t matter in this business. Styles said Owens reminds him of Jericho: A smug, arrogant, jackass. Styles talked about their upcoming match tonight and Owens walked off after noting Styles and Renee Young have the same haircut.
– Dolph Ziggler came out. He’s facing The Miz, next. Because of course he is.
– WWE has a lot of Instagram followers. They just thought we’d like to know. Also: A Burger King plug.
1 – DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. THE MIZ
Ziggler worked a mat-based attack at the outset, with Ziggler going for a few fall attempts early. The two traded side-headlocks. Ziggler skinned the cat to stay in the ring and followed it up with a number of elbowdrops to the chest of Miz. Dropkick for two. Ziggler took another hard, chest-first bump in the corner. Miz landed a baseball slide that knocked Ziggler out of the ring. They went to break at 3:16 of the match.
Back at 7:03 with Miz landing a double axe-handle from the top for a two-count. Body scissors applied by Ziggler. Saxton actually mentioned the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal taking place at Wrestlemania. Ziggler came back but Miz dodged a knee and rolled his foe up for two. Big boot found the mark for two by Miz. Miz applied the figure-four leg-lock. Lawler mentioned that it was Ric Flair who taught it to Miz. Ziggler grabbed the ropes, however. Superkick surprised Miz after the ref lectured Miz about not breaking the hold quickly enough when Ziggler got the ropes. It was enough for the win.
WINNER: Ziggler, at 10:58. The match was fine, but in the end, it was another Ziggler vs. Miz match that feels like it doesn’t matter with both men constantly treading water.
– They showed clips of the League of Nations attacking New Day on Raw. Tonight, King Barrett takes on Kofi Kingston.
– Also: Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch go face-to-face-to-face.
– The Rock returns to Wrestlemania…in 17 days. And I actually don’t mind “My House” by Flo Rida as the theme.
– The announcers sent it to a video of Ryback defeating Sin Cara on Monday, followed by his post-match challenge to Kalisto.
– Earlier this week in Michael Cole’s WWE.com sit-down interview, Kalisto accepted Ryback’s challenge.
– Back to the announcers, only for them to send it to another video from Raw: Brock Lesnar backing down from Dean Ambrose and his crowbar. Later, Mick Foley gifted a baseball bat covered in barbed wire to Ambrose. On commentary, Lawler seemed disgusted by the present from Foley.
– Earlier today, Ambrose got to shoot on location, looked over the city of Cincinnati, his hometown. Ambrose talked about growing up in the tough neighborhoods in Cincy. He said it taught him lessons, like how to BE Dean Ambrose. Lessons that he hopes to pass on to Lesnar at Mania.
– The Dudley Boyz came out. Bubba Ray is in singles action against Goldust, next. Mauro said it would be the first time those two would square off in a singles match in WWE. They should save comments like that for matches that are worthy of that kind of hype.
– Jacqueline was recently announced as joining the latest WWE Hall-of-Fame class.
2 – BUBBA RAY DUDLEY vs. GOLDUST
“Why don’t you tell him to get up and fight!?” yelled Bubba at ref John Cone when Goldust was squatting in the corner, as per his usual. I found this particularly funny for some reason. D-Von took a table from under the ring as soon as the match began. It distracted Goldust and allowed Bubba to go on offense. Bubba yelled at Goldust throughout the match, calling him a “freak,” and shouting at him for painting his face, just like The Usos do. Neck-breaker by Bubba. Bubba taunted Goldust before Goldust finally fought back. It didn’t last long, though. Bubba was striking Goldust with fists and prepped for an elbow, “just like your daddy” as he noted to Goldust. But Goldust kicked Bubba in the gut before the elbow came. Goldust fought off D-Von at ringside. He caught Goldust with a boot to the gut coming back in and that surprisingly picked up the win.
WINNER: Bubba, at 3:23. Odd finish, coming with basically a kick to the stomach. Bubba is morphing more and more into his bully role, which is good for him.
The Dudleys continued their attack on Goldust after the match, leading to R-Truth coming out to make the save. He was dispatched and it took The Usos to come out to chase off Bubba and D-Von.
– Tonight, we’ll see what happened in the final segment of Raw this past week.
– The Divas’ face-to-face-to-face is next.
– Charlotte came out first, with her father, Ric. Charlotte talked about the upcoming match at Wrestlemania and said she wouldn’t be where she is today without the other two. She asked them to accept her invitation. I guess, to come out? But I thought that was already scheduled? Anyway, Becky Lynch came out first. Charlotte asked Lynch where her BFF was. Lynch said she doesn’t “do” best friends anymore, after what happened to her last one. Lynch said she’d take the title at Wrestlemania. Charlotte told her to hold on, which led to Sasha Banks coming out. Banks told Charlotte she doesn’t tell her when to show up. Charlotte talked about their experience together in NXT and how she called her dad to tell him what talented women she’d met. He told her they sound like the Horsemen. Charlotte said maybe they’re the Horsewomen. And Ric approved of that. Charlotte said she brought the other two out to apologize in front of them, as well as everyone sitting at home. Charlotte apologized to her father for thinking the other two were worthy of the Horsewomen moniker.
Banks was not happy about that and Lynch said she was wondering when the “real” Charlotte would show up. Lynch said she thought there was a shred of human decency left in Charlotte, but not now. Lynch told Charlotte to call her whatever she wanted, but at Wrestlemania, she’ll be known as the one ripping off Charlotte’s arm and taking her title. Banks, naturally, had a problem with this prognostication. Banks reminded them she has yet to be beaten since her debut. She said Lynch didn’t deserve to be in the match. She said Lynch failed in her opportunity to win the title. Lynch reminded her it was Ric that led to her loss. She made fun of Banks’ attire and the two came to blows. Charlotte was reveling in it, so they decided to take her out instead. Exploder suplex by Lynch, then a backstabber to Charlotte. Sasha’s music played as Charlotte retreated with her father.
– Tonight, it’s Kevin Owens vs. A.J. Styles.
– Next, Kofi Kingston vs. King Barrett.
– This week’s Great Dog in WWE History (sponsored by Burger King): Matilda, with the British Bulldogs. At this rate, we’ll be watching Burger King Presents WWE Monday Night Raw by the end of the year.
– New Day came out. The finish of the tag title match (which Lawler pointed out New Day won by cheating and Saxton basically blew him off) was shown, as was the League attacking New Day post-match. Xavier Woods said they’ve been recuperating with Booty O’s cereal, which to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t actually exist. I’m not sure if that’s the joke or not. Big E. transformed into an old-school promo to cut down the League of Nations. Even he seemed surprised by that. Kofi accepted the challenge of the League of Nations. They said the Nation was simply four bags of hot garbage. They even had four bags of garbage in the ring, and with each one, made fun of that respective Nation member and kicked the bag out of the ring. They celebrated the fact that New Day rocks before the League interrupted.
3 – KOFI KINGSTON vs. KING BARRETT
Kingston felled Barrett with a dropkick at the sound of the bell. He stampeded Barrett in the corner. Barrett escaped to confab with the rest of the League. Break time at :42 of the match.
Back at 3:45 with Barrett delivering a boot to Kingston, sending him toppling from the apron to the floor. In the ring, the onslaught from Barrett continued. Kingston managed to springboard into a cross-body for two. Nice DDT by Kingston for two after it looked like Barrett was planning on hitting Wasteland. Woods and Alberto Del Rio found themselves on the apron. Rusev kicked Kofi, leading to Big E. going after him. Sheamus then attacked Del Rio, with Rusev and Del Rio following up with stomps. In the ring, spinning heel kick by Kingston. The League got on the apron to distract, but the other members of New Day took care of them. Kofi kicked Sheamus and rolled up Barrett for the win.
WINNER: Kingston, at 6:46. So New Day has now won at Roadblock, on Raw, and tonight in singles action. Not a good look for the League of Nations heading into the tag title match at Wrestlemania, unless they turn it around in the next two weeks.
– The announcers plugged Wrestlemania Week on the WWE Network.
– More from Dean Ambrose, this time inside Madonna’s Bar and Grill, which was helpfully made up to look like it was St. Patrick’s Day. Ambrose said you can learn about yourself in a bar like that. He said what matters is fighting for pride, fighting for where you came from. And he’s bringing the entire city of Cincinnati with him against Lesnar. He said Lesnar doesn’t know what pain is, but he’ll find out at Wrestlemania.
– Next, the confrontation between Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon, and Undertaker from Raw.
– The exterior of the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati was shown.
– The Raw Rebound aired.
– The Social Outcasts were all sitting on the apron, with Heath Slater cutting a promo. He said they are top-flight talent. Bo Dallas announced they’d be the first team in history to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal…together. Slater said he was the leader and he thinks he’ll win. Curtis Axel reminded them he was never eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble match so he’s going to win. Adam Rose said he’s tired of hearing about battle royals from Axel. Dean Ambrose’s theme interrupted and he came out with a kendo stick. He took a few shots at Dallas and Axel as they met him in the aisle. Axel and Rose fought in the ring over who would go get Ambrose. Rose was thrown to the wolf and Ambrose wailed on him. Axel got a few shots in, but Ambrose responded with kendo stick shots.
Ambrose got a mic and said, “I’m sorry, were you guys done?” He said he had been walking the streets of his hometown throughout the day. Rumor is, Lesnar is going to be on Smackdown next week. Ambrose said next week, he’ll be standing in the middle of the ring, and wondered aloud if Lesnar had the baseballs to step up to the plate.
– In a split-screen, Styles and Owens were walking backstage. That match is next.
4 – KEVIN OWENS vs. A.J. STYLES
When Styles came out, they again showed Jericho tuning on him on Raw two weeks ago. That was followed by Jericho’s tirade on Raw and A.J.’s attack. High dropkick began the match for Styles. Whip into the buckle, but Owens sent Styles to the apron. Styles tried to springboard in, but Owens caught him and gave him a fireman’s carry into a gut-buster then a back senton. They cut to break at 1:19 of the match.
Back at 4:23 with Owens holding Styles in a rear chin-lock. For whatever reason, Charles Robinson’s pants are distracting me – it looks like he rubbed up against a chalkboard or something. Certainly not as pristine as we’re used to seeing referees’ outfits. Owens back-dropped Styles to cut off his momentum. Styles catapulted himself over the top rope and outside the ring, hitting Owens with an elbow. Styles elbowed out of a rear waist-lock, but found the well dry on a springboard moonsault. Blue Thunder Bomb by Owens for two. Enzugiri from Styles, but Owens shrugged it off to turn Styles inside-out on a clothesline. Both men slowly climbed to their feet. They exchanged blows, but Owens superkicked Styles. Pele kick by Styles. Styles put Owens in a back-breaker on his shoulders, but turned it into somewhat of a powerbomb. Owens clobbered Styles when Styles went to the top rope. He tried to suplex Styles off, to no avail. Styles headbutted Owens down. Styles was about to springboard elbow Owens, but Jericho’s music began to play. Jericho walked out, distracting Styles. Owens laid into Styles with a boot, then the pop-up powerbomb.
WINNER: Owens, at 11:10.
As Owens left the ring with his Intercontinental Title, Jericho entered the squared circle. He picked Styles up by the hair and gave him the Codebreaker. Jericho got a mic and mocked the “A.J. Styles” chants as he did on Monday, lording over the fallen competitor. The show closed with Jericho raising his arm over Styles, who still wasn’t moving.
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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.