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Dolph Ziggler def. Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, R-Truth and Stardust in a Gauntlet Match
Stardust and Ambrose started things off, with Stardust earning a near-fall off a Disaster Kick. Stardust hit a facebuster and tried for a sunset flip, but Ambrose reversed it into a pinning maneuver of his own for the three-count.
Stardust eliminated by Dean Ambrose
After his elimination, Stardust beat down on Ambrose, until Truth entered and made the save. The referee called for the bell and Stardust jumped back up on the apron. Ambrose took advantage of the distraction to hit Dirty Deeds and pin Truth.
R-Truth eliminated by Dean Ambrose
Harper entered next, and Ambrose hit a running crossbody. Harper locked in a crossface, but Ambrose reached the ropes to break the hold. The action spilled to the outside, with Ambrose hitting an apron elbow drop.
Back in the ring, Harper countered an Ambrose tornado DDT attempt into a discus lariat, but came up empty. Ambrose rolled Harper up with a schoolboy for two, but Harper hit a sidewalk slam for a near-fall. Harper again locked in the crossface, and Ambrose resorted to biting Harper’s hand to get out of it.
Ambrose hit a dropkick, earning a near-fall with an armbar pinning maneuver. Harper hit a superkick, but Ambrose immediately responded with a rebound clothesline. Harper hit a discus lariat and a huge powerbomb to pin Ambrose.
Dean Ambrose eliminated by Luke Harper
Bryan entered next, focusing on Harper’s left knee with a variety of strikes and holds. Bryan put Harper in a surfboard, doing push-ups with Harper in the hold. Bryan tried for his signature series of kicks, but Harper picked him up and tossed him from the ring.
Bryan re-entered the ring, but Harper met him with two elbow drops for a near-fall. Harper hit a gorilla press slam and an uppercut, following up with two more gorilla press slams. Bryan fought back and earned a two-count with a backslide, but Harper hit a big boot for another near-fall.
Bryan used a headscissor to send Harper over the top rope, then hit a dive between the ropes, driving Harper into the barricade. Bryan got Harper back in the ring, but Harper hit a single-underhook snap suplex for a near-fall, as Bryan took a very scary bump on his neck. Harper hit a discus lariat, but Bryan kicked out.
Bryan rolled through a powerbomb attempt, locking Harper’s worn-out knee in a submission hold, forcing Harper to tap.
Luke Harper eliminated by Daniel Bryan
Ziggler entered last, and the two entered into a solid mat-based exchange. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker, taking an extra moment to show off. Bryan took advantage, hitting a top-rope hurricanrana, which Ziggler reversed into a sunset flip for a near-fall.
The two exchanged stiff uppercuts in the middle of the ring, and knocked each other down when they tried for simultaneous running crossbodies. Ziggler hit a dropkick and tried for a Famouser, which Bryan reversed into a jackknife powerbomb for two.
Both men climbed up top, and Ziggler hit a belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope for a near-fall. Bryan hit a superkick, but Ziggler kicked out and hit a superkick for a two-count of his own. Bryan got Ziggler into the Yes Lock, but Ziggler rolled over into a pinning maneuver. Bryan powered out and earned a near-fall with a backslide, but Ziggler kicked out and hit a Zig-Zag, pinning Bryan in the middle of the ring.
Dolph Ziggler eliminated Daniel Bryan
After the match, the two shook hands, but Bad News Barrett entered and took a cheap shot at Ziggler. Bryan tried to fight him off, but Barrett hit him with a microphone. Barrett hit Ziggler with a Bullhammer Elbow, following up with another one to Bryan.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was one of the best things to happen on Smackdown in quite some time. This is what happens when you put so many extremely talented workers in the same program. I loved how strongly Harper and Ziggler were booked here. Everyone knows that Bryan and Ambrose are the clear favorites to win the ladder match at Wrestlemania, so it was smart to book Harper and Ziggler to pin them cleanly. An absolute show-stealer of a match.
Mark Henry painfully puts Roman Reigns over yet again
Reigns said that Heyman and Lesnar can’t intimidate him, but Henry immediately interrupted. Henry said he had come out last week to find out what Reigns had in the ring. Henry said, “Man, did you show me something.” Henry showed the crowd footage of Reigns destroying him last week.
Henry said, “I don’t normally say this, but I got what I deserved.” Henry said that he expects Reigns to beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, and that he’d bet all his money on it. Henry said Reigns can and will beat Lesnar, before shaking his hand.
The Authority entered, and Kane asked Henry when the World’s Strongest Man became the World’s Strongest Self-Help Guru. Rollins said that anything can happen at Wrestlemania, holding up his Money in the Bank briefcase. Rollins added that Randy Orton would not be appearing tonight, saying that J&J Security had banned him from the building for his own good.
Kane announced that he and Rollins would face Henry and Reigns later in the show.
Scott’s Thoughts: Hey, WWE. I took a lot of screenwriting courses on my way to acquiring my film degree in college. Rule No. 1 of screenwriting is to show the viewer, not tell them. In this case, stop telling me how to feel about Roman Reigns.
You want people to view Reigns as a legitimate badass? How about you have him show us that he’s a badass, instead of having the entire roster tell us that he’s a badass? One of those options can work. The other very rarely does. As it turned out, WWE would attempt to show me Reigns is an unstoppable force later in the night, in a ridiculously booked main event that required infinite suspension of disbelief.
Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins and Kane (w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) by pinfall in a 2-on-1 handicap match
Before the match, Henry was found unconscious backstage by the Prime Time Players and Zack Ryder. The Authority entered, with a huge security crew blocking off the entrance ramp. Kane hit a big boot on Reigns to kick off the match, and Rollins followed up with a neckbreaker for two.
Kane hit a sidewalk slam for a near-fall of his own, following up with a DDT. Kane followed up with repeated elbow drops, but Reigns fought back by hitting about a dozen clotheslines on Rollins. Reigns hit a tilt-a-whirl slam, then took out Mercury with a Superman punch.
Reigns next knocked out Noble, then hit Rollins with a Superman punch, before spearing Kane for the pinfall. Reigns walked back up the ramp as Randy Orton’s music hit. Orton entered the ring from behind, hitting a double second-rope DDT on two security guys. Orton followed up with a scoopslam on Rollins and an RKO to Noble.
Mercury tried for a diving crossbody, but Orton countered into an RKO. Rollins ran away up the entrance ramp as Orton celebrated alone.
Scott’s Thoughts: Well, I guess they tried to show me that Reigns is a badass, but that failed miserably. The match was maybe six minutes long at most, and from the moment Henry was found unconscious backstage, the finish was ridiculously telegraphed. Single-handedly dismantling four men in about five minutes is just silly. This booking was absolutely ridiculous.
The Orton run-in after the match was fun, and was a bit more realistic, seeing as he was essentially picking up the scraps that Reigns left behind. I appreciate the way WWE has been tying its major Wrestlemania feuds together recently.
Natalya, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro def. El Torito and Los Matadores by pinfall
Los Matadores gained the early advantage with a hurricanrana on Cesaro. They followed up with a springboard senton on Tyson, but Cesaro took a cheap shot with the referee distracted. El Torito hit Tyson with a leg drop, but Tyson kicked out.
Torito hit a springboard hurricanrana on Tyson, but Natalya tagged in blindly as Los Matadores hit tandem dropkicks and suicide dives on Kidd and Cesaro. Natalya planted Torito with a sitout powerbomb for the pinfall victory.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was more entertaining than the “first-ever six-being interspecies match” had any right to be. It was a fun little comedy bit that wasn’t offensively bad, and that’s a feat for WWE sometimes.
Paige (w/AJ Lee) def. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella) by pinfall
Paige speared Brie out of the ring, then slammed her head off the announce table. Brie fought back by bouncing Paige’s head off the apron. Back in the ring, Brie hit a missile dropkick and bulldog for two. Paige and Brie went for clotheslines simultaneously, but Brie recovered first, hitting a running knee strike. Brie tried to pin Paige, but Paige rolled her up for the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: This was a pretty standard Smackdown Divas filler match.