On this episode of Smackdown, the final show heading into Payback, what will be in store for Roman Reigns and A.J. Styles before their WWE World Title clash? That, and Charlotte and Natalya join Dean Ambrose on the Ambrose Asylum.
WWE Smackdown review
April 28, 2016
Taped 4/26/16 in Manchester, N.H.
Aired on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– A video package was shown with clips from Raw on the ever-evolving feud between Roman Reigns and A.J. Styles.
– Smackdown Open.
– The show opened with fireworks and Mauro Ranallo immediately hyped WWE Payback this Sunday. Roman Reigns came out first to quite a few boos. Ranallo, Byron Saxton, and Jerry “The King” Lawler were on commentary. Reigns talked about the Superman punch he delivered to A.J. Styles on Raw, saying he’ll do it again Sunday at Payback. He said he doesn’t believe Styles when he says he isn’t aligned with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. “You’re not fooling anyone here,” said Reigns. He asked Styles to come out and tell the truth. Instead, The Miz and Maryse. Once they got to the ring, Miz took a mic and said Reigns couldn’t have thought Styles would actually come out. Miz introduced Maryse and they kissed.
Miz said he was the first to publicly link Styles with Anderson and Gallows. Miz brought up Shawshank Redemption, referring to the trio being “thick as thieves” like the main characters in that one. I think Miz is turning into the old Goldust character. I guess that makes Maryse Marlena. Miz said he deserved recognition for sniffing that situation out. But Reigns recognized him with a clothesline, sending him over the top rope and to the floor. Reigns handed the Intercontinental Title to Maryse to take back to her man. Reigns celebrated in the ring. I assume that will lead to Miz vs. Reigns tonight. Even as far as setting up a match later on, it was pretty weak.
– On the Ambrose Asylum later on: Natalya and Charlotte.
– Next, the League of Nations has challenged any three Superstars, in order to show they’re still a strong team.
– Sure enough, it’s champion vs. champion tonight when The Miz faces Roman Reigns.
– Renee Young was backstage with the League of Nations. Young asked if the League was stronger than ever after excommunicating Wade Barrett. Interesting that he has his first name back after his run is over. Alberto Del Rio said they showed the New Day at Wrestlemania how strong they are. Rusev said we might as well call them the United Nations.
1 – THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS vs. KALISTO & SAMI ZAYN & CESARO
The League showed some dissension early on, not being able to figure out who would start the match. Sheamus won out. He wasn’t in long before Del Rio came in. The heels kept tagging themselves into the match. Despite the issues, the heels were in control of Kalisto in the opening minutes. Zayn tagged in but a distraction by Sheamus led to a roundhouse kick by Sheamus. They went to break at 3:00 of the match.
Back at 6:36 with a boot and a legdrop to Zayn by Sheamus. Del Rio tagged in and gave a back-stabber to Zayn. He posed to draw heel heat from the fans. Another disagreement amongst the Nation members occurred and after a shoving match with all three, Del Rio walked out on the other two. Rusev and Sheamus continued arguing. Rusev held Zayn for Sheamus. Sheamus came off the top with a fist, but Zayn moved and he hit Rusev. Rusev and Sheamus then began to go at it, but more like a couple of middle schoolers getting into an altercation rather than two adults. Rusev left Sheamus one-on-three. Kalisto made the tag and gave Sheamus a springboard hurricanrana. Cesaro tagged in and he gave Sheamus a running European uppercut outside the ring. And he was full steam ahead with that one. More European uppercuts back in the ring. Sheamus avoided the Cesaro swing and started heading up the ramp. The ref counted Sheamus out.
WINNERS: Kalisto, Zayn, and Cesaro, via count-out, at 11:51. Glad to see the League broken up. They should do better on their own. They were fine as a group to try to bring down Roman Reigns, as was the purpose when they were first established, but they outlived their usefulness soon after.
– The Ambrose Asylum, featuring Charlotte and Natalya, is still to come.
– The League of Nations continued their bickering backstage. The yelling soon turned into a physical altercation with Sheamus getting the better of it, declaring the League “finished.”
– The announcers reacted on-camera to what we had just seen.
– They threw it to the awesome video package that aired on Raw, chronicling the Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn story.
– Baron Corbin came out for a match. It’s next.
2 – BARON CORBIN vs. DAMIEN SANDOW
No entrance for Sandow, but we did hear the end of his old theme song. This was the match that was supposed to occur on Monday, before Dolph Ziggler attacked Corbin pre-match. Corbin almost immediately threw Sandow outside the ring, and drove him back-first into the barricade. Back in the ring, it was more of the same from Corbin. He dropped Sandow throat-first over the top rope. Catapult throat-first into the bottom rope. End of Days was next.
WINNER: Corbin, at 1:58. Relatively effect squash for Corbin, though the crowd didn’t seem to know how to react.
Replays were shown of the bout.
– Renee Young caught up to A.J. Styles backstage. Styles said he doesn’t care what Reigns thinks about him working with his friends. He said he’ll take the title from Reigns Sunday and Reigns will no longer call him a liar, but “champ.” Young asked Styles about Reigns calling him out earlier, but Styles said he doesn’t answer to Reigns. He also said he’ll be out there for the Reigns match against Miz later on.
– Natalya and Charlotte join the Ambrose Asylum, next.
– Dean Ambrose came out for the Ambrose Asylum. As he did, they showed his interaction with Chris Jericho on Raw this past week. Ambrose began by doing some mic work next to the announce table, referencing Chris Jericho locking him in the Walls of Jericho on the announce table Monday. Ambrose said Jericho’s mistake was letting him go, because he holds grudges. Ambrose entered the ring to switch gears to talk show host, popping some breath mints beforehand. He introduced Natalya first. Nattie said the set reminded her of the dentist’s office, with the plant and all. Trivia note: The plant’s name is Mitch. Ambrose cued up footage of Raw three weeks ago, where Charlotte tapped out to Natalya, though the ref didn’t see it. Ambrose pointed out the obvious, that Charlotte was tapping like there was no tomorrow. Ambrose asked Natalya how Ric Flair running interference will be different this Sunday. Natalya reminded everyone that her uncle, Bret Hart, would be in her corner at Payback. Charlotte’s music hit and she walked out with the Nature Boy.
Charlotte was disgusted that Natalya would parade Bret around after all he’s done in his career. Nattie pointed out the obvious, that Charlotte is doing the same thing, but Charlotte said it’s a different situation. He’s a legend, two-time Hall-of-Famer, her coach, etc. Natalya called Flair a “creepy old man” who has to cheat to help his daughter win because she’s not good enough to do it on her own. She said Bret will stop Ric at Payback if he tries to get involved. Ric took the mic. He said he beat Bret in WWE and WCW. And if they wrestled on the moon, he would’ve beaten him there. Nattie told Charlotte it’s time for a new era. She said it’s time to give the WWE Universe a champion they deserve. Charlotte held the title over her head when face-to-face with Natalya. Nattie’s promo style was a little weird here where she seemed to deliver her lines much slower than usual for some reason.
– Miz vs. Reigns happens tonight.
– The New Day took over commentary for the next match. Like, literally, they took over commentary and kicked out the other announcers. The Social Outcasts were already in the ring. Enzo and Big Cass came out. Enzo cut his promo while the crowd sang along. He said they’re looking at the next number one contenders to the tag titles.
3 – CURTIS AXEL & BO DALAS vs. ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS
Byron Saxton was sitting cross-legged next to the announce desk, looking quite dour. The babyfaces had the advantage until Axel clotheslined Amore in the back of the head. He was aggressive in going after the new mouth of WWE. The Vaudevillains came out onto the stage to take in the match. Dallas, looking better in his new singlet, took a dive outside the ring. Cass tagged in at 2:04 and he ran over both Axel and Dallas. Heath Slater was booted off the apron and Axel was Boss Man Slammed. Amore tagged in and hit his splash off the top for the win.
WINNERS: Enzo and Cass, at 2:47. An energetic win for the good guys heading into their match at Payback.
After replays, Cass took the mic and said after Sunday, only one word will describe the Vaudevillains. I’m sure you can figure out what that word is. Enzo and Cass then turned their stare to New Day at ringside.
– Backstage, R-Truth was checking himself out on his phone with a homemade selfie stick. Goldust came in and talked about how everything clicked with them last week. Tyler Breeze entered with his real selfie stick. Truth said he wanted nothing more than for Goldust to be happy, and he seemed to be happy dancing with Fandango. So Truth got his own tag partner, Breeze, and they’ll be known as Gorgeous Truth. Goldust acted dejected and when asked what he wanted to say, Goldust turned silent. Fandango came in and danced briefly with Goldust, but Goldust was conflicted. Fandango managed to shake his hips even while sitting down to console Goldust.
– Apollo Crews made his entrance for a match, next.
– The Colons are loving life in Puerto Rico.
4 – APOLLO CREWS vs. STARDUST
Waist-lock take-down by Crews, leading to Stardust going outside the ring. “Cody” chants greeted Stardust there. Crews and Stardust wrestled for control when Crews tried to re-enter the ring. Stardust worked the leg and knee of Crews. Crews came back with clotheslines and a kick. Pump-handle slam for two at 2:19. Enzugiri by Crews, and another one. Stardust was still on his feet. Spinning sit-out powerbomb finished off Stardust.
WINNER: Crews, at 3:00. Crews beats another name talent in his climb up the ladder.
– Next, we’ll see the power struggle between Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon from Raw.
– Ranallo thanked Andy Black for “We Don’t Have To Dance,” the official Payback theme.
– The announcers pitched it to a clip of Stephanie and Shane going at it on Raw, and the announcement of Vince McMahon’s upcoming announcement at Payback.
– A.J. Styles came out to take in the main event. It’s next.
– Styles was seated at ringside for Miz vs. Reigns, but not on commentary.
5 – THE MIZ vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Did Ranallo really call this a “dream match”? Reigns picked up the early advantage, sending Miz to ringside with a clothesline. Reigns took the fight to Miz outside the ring, then Reigns got in A.J.’s face. Miz capitalized by sending Reigns into the announce table, followed by the ring post. They went to break at 1:48 of the match.
Back at 5:05 with Styles still standing, out of his seat, watching Miz wear down Reigns with a rear chin-lock. Miz worked in much of his patented offense at this point. Reigns evened the score with a Samoan drop. Both men were down mid-ring. Reigns delivered a clubberin’ to Miz in the corner. As Reigns set up for the Superman punch, Maryse pulled Miz out of the ring. Back in the ring, short DDT by Miz for two at 9:49. Reigns elbowed out of a Skull Crushing Finale attempt and speared Miz for the pinfall victory.
WINNER: Reigns, at 10:26.
After the match, Styles entered the ring. After a few seconds, Gallows and Anderson came to ringside. Reigns went out to greet them, but in doing so, Anderson and Gallows used the numbers advantage to beat down Reigns. Reigns was thrown into the ringside steps. Gallows booted Reigns down. The Usos ran out and attacked Gallows and Anderson while Styles stood in the ring and watched. He tried to talk to Jimmy Uso, but Jimmy punched him. Styles responded with a kick, then he went for the Phenomenal Forearm. Jimmy got out of the way and Gallows sent him out of the ring. Gallows and Styles went face-to-face, but Gallows pushed Styles out of the way and took a spear from Reigns. Styles then grabbed Reigns and went for a Styles Clash, but Reigns got out. Styles dodged a Superman punch by going to ringside. He jawed with Reigns from there as Reigns grabbed his title.
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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.