1/15/15 SmackDown Review – Bryan and Rollins Shine Brightly on Stellar SmackDown

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Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane (w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) by pinfall

Ambrose hit an elbow drop and a neckbreaker on Rollins. Reigns tagged in and hit a clothesline, followed by a delayed vertical suplex. Kane tagged in, hitting a shoulder tackle, but Reigns responded with a side slam. Reigns hit a clothesline, tagging in Bryan.

For the second time in the night, Bryan assaulted Kane with a series of kicks. Michael Cole offered what may prove to be interesting foreshadowing, as he discussed how entry number will be crucial for Bryan in the Royal Rumble. Cole said that he wondered if Bryan would be able to stay in the match for the 60+ minutes it could require, if he has an early slot.

Bryan hit several consecutive uppercuts, but Kane responded with a stiff right hand, then threw Bryan from the ring. The two teams brawled around ringside, with Reigns, Ambrose and Bryan eventually cleaning house. Back in the ring, Ambrose hit a dropkick on Rollins for a near-fall.

Big Show tagged in and hit a gorilla press slam, following up with an elbow drop for a near-fall. Kane took his turn with Ambrose next, using a suplex to earn a two-count of his own. The Authority continued to exchange tags, working over Ambrose, as Rollins berated Ambrose for not knowing when to quit.

Ambrose finally fought back, hitting his rebound clothesline on Kane, but he wasn’t able to make the tag before Rollins reached him. Ambrose sent Rollins over the top rope, but Big Show took advantage of a Mercury distraction to take out Ambrose.

Reigns hit Big Show with a Superman punch, and Rollins took out Reigns with a dropkick. Rollins got back in the ring and tried to prevent Ambrose from making the tag to Bryan, but failed. Bryan hit Rollins with repeated strikes, before diving between the ropes to take out Kane.

Bryan hit a jawbreaker onto the top rope on Rollins, then got back in the ring. Bryan hit a running dropkick into the corner, followed by a tremendous top-rope hurricanrana for a very close near-fall. Kane tagged in and hit a chokeslam on Bryan, forcing Reigns to make the save.

Reigns speared Big Show over the announce table, as Bryan trapped Kane in the Yes Lock. Rollins broke it up, but ate an Ambrose dropkick. Ambrose blasted Noble and Mercury, then climbed up top and hit an elbow drop to the floor on Rollins, Noble and Mercury.

In the ring, Kane tried for another chokeslam, but Bryan countered and hit a running knee for the pinfall victory. As Bryan celebrated, Triple H entered, congratulating Bryan for getting lucky. He said he had the feeling that Bryan’s luck would run out. Triple H set up a rematch against Kane for next Thursday, saying that if Kane wins, Bryan is out of the Rumble.

Scott’s Thoughts: It really is all systems go for Bryan. Having him pull double-duty on his first night back is all the evidence I needed of that. As for the match, this was much better than your usual six-man Teddy Long special — likely due to the fact that The Shield were the kings of six-man tags. This felt much like a Shield match from a 2013 Raw. Good stuff.

 

Paul Heyman continues to lobby for Seth Rollins’ allegiance

Heyman said that for the first time in his career, he was truly afraid, because Brock Lesnar does whatever he wants. He added that Lesnar doesn’t take anything personally; he is simply a conqueror, who runs over anyone in his path. However, now Lesnar has a purpose — to send “the future” Seth Rollins back to the past.

Rollins entered with Noble and Mercury, saying that he doesn’t hide behind anyone, and that he isn’t afraid of Lesnar. Rollins said that he was sick of waiting, and wanted to cash in his briefcase on Lesnar tonight. Heyman responded that Lesnar isn’t even in the building, to which Rollins said that if he can’t Curb Stomp Lesnar, he’d do it to Heyman.

Heyman said that Rollins is such a cliche, and that everyone incorrectly thinks threatening him is a way to get to Lesnar. Rollins mounted Heyman in the corner, hilariously speaking with their faces pressed together. Rollins said that neither Lesnar nor Cena is a threat to his dominance, and asked Heyman what should be stopping him from Curb Stomping him right now.

Heyman said that The Authority has already been removed from power once, and that they could easily be taken out again. Heyman continued that the WWE is a long-term proposition, and that he has gained power every day since he returned to the company.

Heyman said that he has gained the power of each of Lesnar’s victims, before making a very interesting offer to Rollins. Heyman told Rollins that he can get Lesnar to either defend the title, or protect the new champion when Heyman decides it’s time to give the future a shot.

Scott’s Thoughts: The already fascinating all-heel feud between The Authority and Heyman/Lesnar got a shot in the arm here. Rollins is truly the one with all the power, as he is a “swing vote” of sorts, which each side is desperately trying to align with.

Rollins is proving with each passing day that he is a generational talent. He’s such a superbly talented talker that he can hold his own with the legendary Heyman on the mic, and he’s better in the ring than all but a very few wrestlers in the world.

Rollins’ former Shield brethren, Ambrose and Reigns, both have loads of potential. The difference is that Rollins is already the complete package. He’s not a work-in-progress; he’s a finished product, and at the young age of 28, there is no ceiling for him.

 

Daniel Bryan def. Kane (w/ Triple H, Seth Rollins, Big Show, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) by disqualification

Byron Saxton interviewed Bryan in the ring, asking how it felt to prepare for a match against the man who put him out of action last April. Bryan said that he and Kane had started off as adversaries, but Team Hell No brought them together. He said that Kane had been like a brother to him, but had stabbed him in the back.

Bryan added that defeating Kane would be just the first step on another road to WrestleMania, promising to win the Royal Rumble. Triple H’s music hit, and he entered with Kane and the rest of The Authority. Bryan opened the match hot with a dropkick, following up with a furious series of strikes.

Bryan used a drop toehold to send Kane face-first into the turnbuckle, then went to work on Kane’s left knee. Kane fought back with consecutive neckbreakers for a near-fall. Kane followed up with a big boot for another two-count.

Kane continued to gather momentum, hitting a DDT for yet another near-fall. Bryan fought back by dumping Kane from the ring, then hitting him with a dropkick between the ropes. Bryan tried for a flying axe-handle off the apron, but Kane caught him with a punch to the gut.

Back in the ring, Bryan hit a jawbreaker, but Kane responded with another DDT. Kane hit a sidewalk slam for two, but Bryan fought back and hit a top-rope crossbody for a near-fall of his own. Bryan hit a clothesline, followed by his trademark series of kicks for another two-count.

Kane tried for a chokeslam, which Bryan reversed into a Yes Lock. As soon as Bryan locked the hold in, Noble and Mercury attacked him, causing the disqualification. Bryan fought them off with a double dropkick, followed by a dropkick to Big Show.

Rollins entered the ring and tried to take Bryan out with his Money in the Bank briefcase, but Bryan slipped out of the ring and escaped up the entrance ramp. The Authority followed him to the stage, where Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose appeared as Bryan’s backup.

Triple H said that if Reigns and Ambrose want to get involved, that’s fine by him. Triple H set up the six-man tag match for later in the show.

Scott’s Thoughts: I am loving the WWE’s shocking newfound ability to refer to events that happened more than a few weeks ago. Why didn’t they reference Team Hell No when Bryan was feuding with Kane in the spring? Whatever the reason, I’m glad they’re doing it now.

As for Bryan, he didn’t look rusty at all. It probably helped that he got to wrestle someone with whom he has a long history. Also, I think that Bryan looks much better with his new longer hair and trimmed beard.

 

Bad News Barrett def. Sin Cara by pinfall to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Sin Cara used a series of pinning maneuvers, trying to lock up the title win early. He hit an enziguiri, but Barrett fought back with a big boot. Sin Cara hit a clothesline and a springboard crossbody to earn a near-fall. Barrett fought back with Winds of Change and set up for the Bullhammer Elbow.

Barrett came up empty with the Bullhammer, and Sin Cara planted him with his tremendous signature roll-up powerbomb. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time he’s used that move outside of NXT. The announce crew did a great job of putting the move over, and the crowd popped pretty big for it.

Sin Cara went up top, but Barrett rolled out of the way of his senton bomb. Barrett whiffed with another Bullhammer, but finally connected with it as a counter to Sin Cara’s springboard crossbody, earning the pinfall to retain his title.

Scott’s Thoughts: This was a highly entertaining match. Despite how odd it was for Sin Cara to earn a title shot, the match itself was very good. Sin Cara’s rollup powerbomb is one of my favorite moves in wrestling today, and I got a kick out of seeing him finally use it on the main roster. Using the move on Barrett made it even more impressive, seeing as he weighs 246 pounds.

(Sin Cara’s performance over the last week convinced me to bump him up in our WWE depth chart.)

 

The Miz, Damien Mizdow and Alicia Fox def. The Usos and Naomi by pinfall

Miz and Jimmy traded shoulder tackles, before Jey hit Miz with a suicide dive. Mizdow tagged in, but Alicia immediately tagged herself in, just like Miz has been doing for months. Naomi hit a single-leg dropkick and a hurricanrana, following up with an enziguiri and a top-rope crossbody for a near-fall.

Jey and Miz tagged in, with Miz hitting a big boot. Miz feigned tagging Mizdow in, before taking his hand back. Miz and Jey took each other out with clotheslines in unison. Jey managed to reach Jimmy, who hit a Samoan drop and a corkscrew moonsault, forcing Alicia to make the save.

Jimmy tossed Naomi onto Alicia, allowing Miz the opportunity to roll him up from behind. Jimmy rolled through into a pinning maneuver of his own, and Mizdow came in to make the save. Miz shoved Mizdow into a superkick from Jimmy, then hit the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pinfall.

Scott’s Thoughts: This feud has been a legitimately enjoyable midcard comedy rivalry. The additions of Fox and Naomi have also worked very well. I really enjoyed the finish, with Miz sacrificing Mizdow to earn the deliciously heelish victory.

 

Natalya (w/Paige) def. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) by submission

Nikki worked over Natalya’s left arm, using a variety of maneuvers that included a very nice tornado DDT-style arm wrench from the second rope. In an impressive display of strength, Natalya picked up Nikki’s dead weight and slammed her.

Natalya hit her snapmare/basement dropkick combo, followed by a big spinning lariat for a near-fall. Brie tried to distract Natalya by getting up on the apron, but Paige cleverly took advantage herself, taking a cheap shot at Nikki when the ref turned away. Natalya locked in the sharpshooter, forcing Nikki to tap out.

Scott’s Thoughts: I’m glad that Paige is still employing heel tactics. Despite the fact that Natalya as a character has been a tweener herself lately, she’s been so purely babyface for so long that many fans haven’t really even caught on yet. Paige remaining squarely in the tweener role is a smart move, especially since her kinda-turn was so sudden and not really explained well in the first place.

 

– Throughout the course of the show, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Big Show and Kane all entered into the Royal Rumble.