Smackdown Review – Former Shield Members Clear Final Pre-Payback Hurdles


Seth Rollins (w/ Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) def. Ryback by pinfall; Bray Wyatt attacks Ryback

Rollins said that he doesn’t feel like he’s at a disadvantage compared to the other competitors in the Payback Fatal Four-Way, because the match is every man for himself, and the other men are all as cutthroat as Rollins himself. Rollins said that with Kane in his corner, he would prevail at Payback.

When Ryback entered for his match with Rollins, he was attacked by Wyatt before he could get to the ring. Still, Ryback insisted on having the match. Rollins knocked Ryback from the ring, where J&J Security took cheap shots at Ryback as Rollins distracted the official.

Ryback got back in the ring at the nine-count, immediately receiving a DDT from Rollins. Ryback kicked out and hit a Thesz press, but Rollins answered with a neckbreaker for two. Ryback recovered to hit a facebuster and a back bodydrop, following up with a tilt-a-whirl slam.

Ryback hit a spinebuster to earn a near-fall, then nailed Rollins with a Meathook Clothesline. Ryback set up for Shell Shocked, but a distraction from J&J allowed Rollins to rake Ryback’s eyes. Rollins hit an enziguiri and a flying knee strike, then planted Ryback with two superkicks, earning the pinfall.

Scott’s Thoughts: This was a much better match than expected, and it made Ryback look very strong. Despite Wyatt beating him up before the match — and J&J Security’s distractions — Ryback nearly won the match. The storytelling and pacing were both very smooth, and I loved the finish, with Rollins waiting for Ryback to recover from the first superkick, only to finish him with another one. This was pretty easily the match of the night. (I still don’t know why Wyatt and Ryback are feuding, though.)


Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus by pinfall

Ambrose cut an in-ring promo, saying that planting Reigns with Dirty Deeds on Monday was a heat-of-the-moment decision, and that Reigns is his only friend in the world. Reigns entered, and Ambrose told him that he wasn’t going to apologize. Reigns said that he didn’t expect an apology, and didn’t need one.

Reigns said that at Payback it’s his turn for revenge on Rollins. Ambrose and Reigns were about to shake hands when Kane appeared, telling them to worry less about winning the Slammy for best bromance and more about the title match on Sunday. Ambrose reminded Kane that if Rollins loses, Kane will no longer be Director of Operations.

Kane said that he wasn’t concerned about losing his job, but told Ambrose that he had a match with Sheamus — which Ambrose interrupted, predicting that the match would happen “right now, because that’s the only time you know when to book matches.”

The match was pretty slow and safe for a couple minutes, until Sheamus hit a gorilla press slam. Ambrose answered with a running bulldog, but Sheamus knocked Ambrose out of the ring with a running high knee. Sheamus drove Ambrose into the barricade, then took him back into the ring, locking in a Cloverleaf until Ambrose reached the ropes.

Ambrose rolled Sheamus up for two, but Sheamus responded with White Noise. Ambrose dodged a Brogue Kick, rolling out of the ring. Sheamus followed him, but Ambrose hit a rebound clothesline from the bottom rope, adding a dive between the ropes.

Back in the ring, Sheamus hit an Irish Curse backbreaker for a near-fall, but Ambrose hit another rebound clothesline. Ambrose bounced Sheamus face-first off the top turnbuckle, then rolled him up in a schoolboy for the pinfall.

Scott’s Thoughts: Despite the crowd’s half-hearted attempt at a “This is awesome” chant, I thought this was just okay. Both men seemed to be playing it somewhat safe, and who can blame them, with a PPV just a few days away.


Roman Reigns def. Kane by pinfall in a “There Must Be a Winner by Pinfall or Submission” match

In the awkwardly titled match that was actually just a standard no-DQ street, Reigns and Kane started brawling before Reigns even got to the ring. Kane drove Reigns into the ring steps, and eventually both men got into the ring and the referee called for the bell. Kane immediately dumped Reigns back out of the ring, but came up empty when he tried to hit Reigns in the head with the stairs.

Reigns retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring and hit Kane repeatedly with it. Kane got control of the kendo stick, hitting Reigns repeatedly right in his flak jacket. He probably didn’t even feel that. Kane started to disassemble the announce table and tried to chokeslam Reigns into it, but Reigns hit a superkick and a diving clothesling off the table.

Reigns did a variant of his rope-hung dropkick with Kane draped over the announce table, then hit Kane with the ring steps. Reigns put two tables into the ring, propping one up in a corner. Kane got back in the ring, hitting a big DDT for a near-fall.

Kane set up a table in the middle of the ring, Chokeslamming Reigns through the table. Reigns managed to kick out, and Kane set up for a Tombstone Piledriver, which Reigns reversed into a Superman Punch. Reigns speared Kane through the table in the corner to earn the three-count.

Scott’s Thoughts: Pretty much your standard house show street fight.


Tyson Kidd (w/ Cesaro and Natalya) def. Kofi Kingston (w/ Big E and Xavier Woods) by submission

Kofi hit a reverse back suplex, bridging it into an armbar. Tyson kicked Kofi out of the ring and hit him with a somersault plancha. Back in the ring, Tyson tried to lock in a Sharpshooter, but both Big E and Woods tried to make distractions.

Cesaro knocked down Big E with a clothesline, as Natalya assisted her husband by holding Woods long enough for Tyson to hit him with an enziguiri. Kofi rolled Tyson up, but only earned a two-count. Tyson reversed Trouble In Paradise into a Sharpshooter, forcing Kofi to tap out.

Scott’s Thoughts: A nice five-minute match. Tyson and Kofi both dialed it up early, and the ancillary players all did their jobs well. This feud is fun stuff.


Neville def. Bo Dallas by pinfall

Bo said that Monday’s Raw might be the last time we see Daniel Bryan, then quoted Albert Einstein, saying “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” He said that while Bryan being gone would be difficult, this was Bo’s opportunity to be there for the WWE Universe. Bo said that there are five stages of grief, all of which he was willing and able to help fans with.

The first stage was denial that Bryan had let them down, with the second being anger. Bo said that the third step is bargaining, “because you’re all going to get great bargains on Daniel Bryan t-shirts now that he’s gone.” The fourth step is depression, which will completely engulf Bryan when he realizes everyone forgot about him. Bo said that he can help the fans get through the final step of acceptance that Bryan is never coming back, if they just Bo-lieve.

In a rematch of the main event from the first-ever NXT live event, Neville hit an early second-rope crossbody, but Bo knocked him over the top rope, then took him down spine-first into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Neville hit his signature series of kicks, followed by an enziguiri.

Neville climbed up top, hitting the Red Arrow for the pinfall victory. After the match, King Barrett — who had been on commentary — stood on top of the table with a microphone. Barrett said that Neville isn’t a threat to the king’s throne, and that he has a royal Bullhammer waiting for him at Payback.

Scott’s Thoughts: Bo hadn’t had a promo this good in quite some time. He is so good when they give him opportunities on the mic. The match itself was short and simple, but effectively executed.


– Lana read a hilarious prepared statement, apologizing for engaging in corrupt Western customs when she danced with Fandango last week. Rusev played a recording of Cena saying “I Quit,” hinting at yet another screwy ‘pre-taped’ finish for their match on Sunday. I think WWE is smart enough to not actually do that again. I think.

– Naomi and Tamina Snuka cut an interesting backstage promo, in which Naomi skirted race issues in wrestling — “In this world, opportunities aren’t given to girls like us, so we’re just doing what we’ve got to do.” I liked the nuance here, and Naomi looks much better now that she’s abandoned the braids she had for the last few weeks.

– A man named Carl in a hot dog suit asked Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes when the Rosebuds would be paid. Rose said that this is about more than money, and that he’s leading a revolution of high art. Rose shoved Carl the hot dog, and made out with Rosa. Yeah.