By Scott Strandberg
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins and Big Show (w/Kane, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) by pinfall
The referee was about to ring the bell to start a 2-on-1 handicap match, but Ambrose entered as Reigns’ teammate. All four men brawled for a bit, before things settled down and the match got underway. Ambrose hit a Thesz press on Rollins to gain an early advantage, following up with an elbow drop. Ambrose floored Rollins with a dropkick.
Big Show tagged in, but Ambrose hit a tornado DDT and made the hot tag to Reigns, as Show reached Rollins. Reigns hit a clothesline and a tilt-a-whirl slam, then tossed Rollins into Kane on the apron. Reigns hit a Superman punch on Rollins, then gave one to Noble and Mercury for good measure. Show ended Reigns’ rally with a chokeslam.
Ambrose dropkicked Show out of the ring, then hit a top-rope elbow drop on Show, Kane, Noble and Mercury. Rollins tried for a Curb Stomp, but Reigns slipped out of the way and hit a spear for the pinfall victory. Reigns and Ambrose quickly retreated up the entrance ramp, capping off the show with a signature Shield fist bump.
Scott’s Thoughts: It was obvious all along that Ambrose would be Reigns’ partner in this match, but it was still a total blast to see the three Shield members in the ring together again. Too bad Big Slow had to be there too, but I’ll even give that a pass. This was a highly entertaining main event, which planted the seeds for the proper Shield storyline I’ve been itching for ever since Reigns’ return.
Roman Reigns’ promo problems persist
Rollins opened the show by showing a picture of John Cena’s face from the end of Raw, with the dumbfounded look on his face as he realized The Authority had fired his friends. Rollins asked for a ten-bell salute to remember Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan. Reigns interrupted and stumbled through a painful promo, in which he referred to Rollins as a “Sufferin’ Succotash,” then broke the fourth wall, saying “That wasn’t easy to say,” before very deliberately winking at the camera. Reigns took out Rollins, Noble and Mercury, clearing the ring.
Kane and Big Show entered, and Kane set the main event match. He said that Reigns would face Rollins and Show alone, unless he can actually find a tag partner to take on The Authority.
Scott’s Thoughts: Roman…STOP SMILING SO MUCH. He spent the entire first half of his promo with the same stupid grin on his face. As if that wasn’t cutesy enough, I usually enjoy when WWE employs meta-promos, but Reigns basically admitted that he was bad on the mic, before winking at the very people who complain about it. If this had happened in the midst of a good promo, that’d be great, but Reigns was already gasping for air in this segment. He can’t come close to Rollins on the mic, so this was probably not the right time to get cute. The blame is far from Reigns’ alone — you try saying “Sufferin’ Succotash” in 2015 without sounding like a huge douche.
The Usos def. Goldust & Stardust and The Miz & Damien Mizdow in a triple-threat match to retain the Tag Team Championship
Miz and Jey traded shoulder tackles early, then exchanged several pinning maneuvers, earning frequent two-counts. Miz hit a jawbreaker on Jimmy, but Stardust tagged himself in for Miz. Jimmy hit a single-leg dropkick and an elbow drop, but Goldust tagged in. Jimmy hit a clothesline that sent Goldust out of the ring, then sent Miz out as well.
Mizdow tossed himself out of the ring. Jimmy hit a suicide dive on Miz, then Stardust hit a Falling Star on Miz as well. Back in the ring, Jimmy hit an enziguiri on Stardust, but Miz tagged himself in, earning the near-fall for himself. Mizdow tagged in and hit a clothesline, followed by a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo and a kip-up.
Stardust tossed Mizdow from the ring and tagged Goldust, who took Mizdow out with a clothesline. Mizdow hit a jawbreaker, but Goldust fought back with a spinebuster. Stardust knocked Miz off the apron with a Disaster Kick, and Mizdow was unable to tag out of the match. The Usos convinced Mizdow to tag in Jey, who hit a Samoan drop on Stardust.
Goldust tagged in and used an inside cradle to earn a two-count. Goldust tried for a scoopslam, but Jimmy tagged in blindly and The Usos hit Goldust with a double superkick, forcing Miz to make the save. Chaos ensued, with Mizdow hitting a Skull-Crushing Finale on Jey, which Goldust followed up with a Final Cut on Mizdow.
Goldust tried for another Final Cut on Jimmy, who rolled him up for a two-count. Stardust tried to help Goldust by sending Jimmy out of the ring, but accidentally sent Goldust flying instead. Jimmy hit a dive between the ropes on Stardust and tossed Goldust back into the ring. Jimmy hit a splash to retain the titles.
Scott’s Thoughts: Not bad, not great. I expected a bit more, but perhaps I shouldn’t have. These guys have been wrestling each other so much over the last few months that it’s got to be tough to come up with new ideas at this point.
Sin Cara def. Bad News Barrett by pinfall
Barrett said he was ready to give Dolph Ziggler his rematch, before remembering that Ziggler was fired. Barrett declared himself for the Royal Rumble, and Sin Cara entered for a match. Sin Cara hit a springboard crossbody for a two-count, but Barrett fought back with Winds of Change for a near-fall of his own.
Sin Cara rolled him up for another near-fall, then hit an enziguiri and a senton bomb, pinning Barrett for the massive upset victory. Barrett beat up Sin Cara after the match, laying him out with a Bullhammer elbow.
Scott’s Thoughts: This right here is the kind of booking that made the Intercontinental Title a meaningless belt for years on end. It’s an absolute shame, because Ziggler’s title reign had significantly raised the title’s legitimacy — because WWE wasn’t booking a champion to lose clean to a freaking jobber on SmackDown. You have got to be kidding me with this one. Talk about a momentum killer for Barrett. Wow.
Big E (w/Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) def. Adam Rose (w/Tyson Kidd and Cesaro) by pinfall
Accompanied by Kidd and Cesaro — who were once again wearing the shirts they received as gifts from /r/squaredcircle — Rose opened up the match with a spinebuster for an early two-count. Rose hit repeated elbow drops, but Big E fought back with clotheslines and a belly-to-belly. Big E hit a running splash and tried for the Big Ending, but Rose countered with an enziguiri and a very nice tornado DDT for a near-fall. Big E used a tilt-a-whirl to transition into the Big Ending for the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: It’s really unfortunate that WWE dropped the ball so badly with Rose, because he really is talented. His spinebuster is one of the best in the business, and the tornado DDT looked great as well. New Day vs Uppercats/Rose could easily fill 15 minutes at the Royal Rumble PPV. I’d be down with that.
Naomi def. Alicia Fox by pinfall
Naomi immediately hit a dropkick and a splash into the corner, followed by a running crossbody. Naomi hit a leapfrog and a hurricanrana, but Fox rolled her up with her feet on the ropes. The referee didn’t notice, and counted the leveraged pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: Yep.
The Ascension def. two local wrestlers by pinfall
The Ascension won with The Fall of Man.
Scott’s Thoughts: I absolutely cannot fathom the decision to bring the “jobbers of the week” format with The Ascension from NXT. I understand that WWE is trying (way too hard) to make them a throwback 1980’s team, but there’s a reason matches like this don’t exist anymore. Some things from the 80’s should stay in the 80’s.
– Bray Wyatt cut a backstage promo. He said some things about Dean Ambrose, before saying that one journey had ended and another is about to begin. He then declared himself for the Royal Rumble. I sincerely hope he meant it when he said that another journey is about to begin. Please, WWE. Keep Ambrose and Wyatt as far away from each other as possible in the future.