7/23/15 – Andrew Berg – @Wrestle Rosters
Seth Rollins def. Cesaro
After a WWE.com interview with Michael Cole this week, Cesaro was at the center of Smackdown and the show was better for his involvement. He had a backstage interview early in the show in which he focused on his love and commitment for professional wrestling. Kevin Owens, fresh off a loss to Rusev, interrupted him and said that nobody cares about Cesaro’s dedication. Cesaro responded by telling Owens not to choke on his catering like he choked against John Cena. He also might have started a new chant- “Walk Owens Walk.”
In the main event, Ceasaro got a high-profile opportunity Rollins. He hit him with a gorilla press early, but took a flying knee from Rollins when he missed an uppercut. They continued to trade impressive offense- a gutwrench vertical suplex by Cesaro, a superkick from Rollins, and a nice dropkick in response by Cesaro.
Cesaro tried to take his attack to another level, only for Rollins to block a deadlift superplex and answer with a buckle bomb. Cesaro fought his way out of a Pedigree and turned it into a Sharpshooter that he transitioned into a crossface to keep Rollins from the ropes. Eventually, Rollins freed himself and hit an enzuigiri. Cesaro fought back with an uppercut, and Rollins tried to leave. Cesaro dragged him back into the ring and hit a spinebuster to set up the Swing. Rollins gouged his eyes, threw Cesaro into the corner, and hit a Pedigree to get a cheap win at the end of a very good match.
After the finish, Owens came to the ring to answer Cesaro’s insults. He pounded him with fists and finished the show with a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Cesaro and Owens have the chance to help elevate one another with their ability in the ring. The fact that Cesaro is raising his promo game to meet Owens is only making their rivalry more fun to watch.
Rusev def. Kevin Owens by Count-out
Before he faced Rusev, Owens got an opportunity on the mic, which is a great way for him to set up any match. He said that he did not mind giving up to John Cena at Battleground because his motto is not “Never Give Up” and he is happy to live to fight another day. He went on to blame Rusev for his team’s loss on Raw because he was distracted by Summer Rae, who he referred to as another Lana.
Owens dominated the early part of his match with Rusev. He hit a cannonball in the corner and held a snug chinlock to wear down his adversary. Rusev eventually freed himself and answered with a gutwrench-style side suplex. He hit a spinning heel kick off of the ropes and a jumping superkick. As he set up for the Accolade, Owens rolled to the outside and took the loss. It was a way to advance his “live to fight another day” motto.
In spite of the losses he has taken lately, I think Owens is still in fine shape. His pre-match promo maintained some of the heat he built in the program with Cena and made the loss hurt less than it did at first. It is an example of his outstanding skill on the mic, which will always keep him on the verge of even bigger things. We also saw that potential in his backstage interaction with Cesaro.
Sheamus def. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose has heat coming from many different angles and a few of them converged on Smackdown. Sheamus said before the match that Ambrose is a coward because he only put Big Show through a table last week to avoid having to fight him in the ring.
After an early flurry from Ambrose- including a tornado DDT off of the apron-, Sheamus started to target the bad knee that Ambrose initially hurt over a month ago against Seth Rollins. He wrapped Ambrose’s leg around his neck and turned that into a powrbomb. He continued to work the knee with a half crab, but when Ambrose escaped, he hit a rebound clothesline and an elbow drop. With Ambrose in control, the lights went out. Bray Wyatt appeared on the ramp and Luke Harper stood behind Ambrose on the announce table. Ambrose tried to attack Harper, but caught a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Another Brogue Kick in the ring put Ambrose down for three and got Sheamus the win.
While it’s not the main event program that some would probably want for Ambrose, this feud is working for him. Wyatt has been on a great roll and Harper’s return has reinvigorated both of them. Roman Reigns and Ambrose work well together and the personal nature of their rivalry makes it even more entertaining.
Bella Twins def. Team BAD
Nikki Bella wrestled for the first time since the start of the “Divas Revolution” against Sasha Banks and Naomi. Curiously, the Bellas worked the babyface style in this match and controlled the first part with quick tags and good teamwork. A side kick from Tamia outside the ring with the referee’s back turned help put her team back on offense. Sasha hit double knees in the corner and Naomi compounded it with feet to Brie’s chin.
When Nikki bot the hot tag, she went on a run with forearms and a hot tag. Sasha and Brie fought each other to the floor, leaving Naomi and Nikki isolated. A small package did not get the pin for Naomi and she followed it with a misfired attempt at the Rear View. Instead, Nikki hit another forearm and the Rack Attack to get the win. On the positive side, this match was well-wrestled and entertaining, and it makes sense for the champion to maintain some momentum in the face of the new challengers (so it means something when someone eventually beats her). On the other hand, I continue to be confused at the back-and-forth face/heel booking for their team and wonder what it means for the future of the division.
Neville def. Adam Rose
Before Neville faced Rose, he told JoJo that he is focused on Stardust, as well. As soon as the promo finished, Stardust appeared on the monitor in an spooky fashion. Rose had a little bit of success agianst Neville early, but it was short lived. A quick Red Arrow ended the match. After the conclusion, Stardust appeared for another taped promo and said that stars are eternal while arrows fall. This rivalry could go either way, but I don’t mind the slightly cartoony nature since it fits both personalities. The most positive indicator is the fact that both Neville and Stardust are tremendous wrestlers who deserve to be featured.
The show also featured a highlight package of Undertaker and Brock Lesnar and a throw-away promo by King Barrett. The highlight package did a good job capturing the crazy intensity of the brawl on Raw. Meanwhile, Barrett reasserted that he is a serious king after he defended his crown against R-Truth. Barrett has always been able to talk. I’ll believe that success will follow in the ring when I start to see it.