Smackdown Review – Cesaro Steals Show Yet Again

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7/16/15 – Scott Strandberg – @wrestlerosters

Cesaro def. Rusev (w/ Lana) by pinfall

Cesaro hit a big clothesline, followed by a vertical suplex. Rusev fought back with a spinning side slam, but Cesaro answered with a German suplex. Rusev responded with a fallaway slam for a near-fall.

Cesaro answered with a springboard spinning uppercut, followed by repeated uppercuts in the corner. Cesaro hit a side suplex for a two-count, then landed a dropkick that sent Rusev from the ring. Cesaro tried for a dive between the ropes, but ran right into a right hand from Rusev.

Back in the ring, Rusev hit a spinning heel kick and tried to follow up with The Accolade, but Cesaro countered with a double stomp. Rusev planted Cesaro with a superkick and tried for The Accolade again, but Cesaro made his way to the ropes. The crowd chanted “USA” despite the fact that neither competitor is American. Maybe they’re just big Summer Rae fans.

Cesaro hit a dropkick, but Rusev responded with another superkick. Rusev tried for a diving crossbody off the top rope, but Cesaro countered with an uppercut. Cesaro hit the Neutralizer and pinned Rusev clean in the middle of the ring.

Tom Phillips pointed out on commentary that the only other pinfall loss Rusev has suffered was against John Cena at Wrestlemania, making the moment feel even more important. Cesaro dove into the crowd and celebrated with the fans at ringside.

Scott’s Thoughts: This was a tremendous match that both continued Cesaro’s recent hot streak, and gave him the meaningful victory he needed to make fans take him seriously as a legitimate threat. Given that neither Rusev nor Cesaro are booked for Battleground, it’s not surprising that they stole the show tonight, but this was far more than I expected from any Smackdown match.


Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus and Big Show by disqualification

Ambrose hit Sheamus with a rebound clothesline, then hit an elbow drop from the apron on both Sheamus and Show. Back in the ring, Ambrose landed a dropkick on Sheamus, but Sheamus responded with an Irish Curse backbreaker for two. Show tagged in and hit a gorilla press slam.

Show came up empty on an elbow drop, and Ambrose reached Reigns as Show tagged Sheamus. Reigns hit several clotheslines, followed by a Samoan drop, but Sheamus responded with White Noise. Ambrose broke up the pin and tried to take out Big Show between the ropes.

Show caught Ambrose and tried to slam him onto the announce table, but Ambrose countered it into a DDT through the table. In the ring, Reigns hit Sheamus with a Superman punch and set up for a spear, but Bray Wyatt attacked him, causing the disqualification. Wyatt tried for Sister Abigail, but Reigns countered with a Superman punch. Sheamus got back in the ring and ate a spear from Reigns for his troubles.

Scott’s Thoughts: Other than the DDT table spot, this was your typical meaningless tag team main event.


Neville def. Stardust by pinfall

Neville hit an early dropkick, followed by an arm drag that sent Stardust from the ring. Neville hit a moonsault off the apron, then tossed Stardust back into the ring. Neville tried for a sunset flip, but Stardust used the ropes for a leverage pin attempt.

The referee caught Stardust and refused to count the pinfall, giving Neville time to successfully hit a sunset flip for the far-too-quick pinfall victory. After the match, Stardust attacked Neville backstage.

Scott’s Thoughts: Why is WWE smart enough to match these two up — and give them a cool comic-book intro video — if they won’t let them wrestle more than a three-minute match?


Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns set the stage for Sunday

Reigns cut an in-ring promo to open the show, saying that Wyatt hasn’t broken his focus. He said that he would be teaming up with Ambrose later in the night, against Sheamus and Big Show. Wyatt interrupted on the Titantron, saying that Reigns has done nothing to earn the position he’s in.

Wyatt said that he understands why the crowd believes in Roman, because he’s a stone monument that’s easy to worship. Wyatt said he would destroy the monument at Battleground. Reigns asked Wyatt if he would come down to the ring, or if he was just going to stay on the screen all night.

Wyatt responded that Reigns has no power over him, and Reigns reminded him that he made Wyatt run away on Monday. Wyatt told Reigns to apologize to his loved ones, because he can’t promise to them that he’ll come home from Battleground.

Scott’s Thoughts: This feud continues to work quite well, as it has provided a consistent logical base for Wyatt, which is something he’s lacked for nearly his entire run in WWE. It also keeps Reigns out of the main event picture, in an upper-midcard spot where fans are more comfortable with his presence.


Big E and Kofi Kingston (w/ Xavier Woods) def. The Lucha Dragons by pinfall

Sin Cara hit a springboard crossbody on Kofi, then climbed up top to hit a diving headscissor on Kofi while hitting an arm drag on Big E. The Lucha Dragons teamed up for a wheelbarrow senton, earning Kalisto a two-count. Sin Cara tried for another crossbody, but Big E and Kofi caught him and tossed him from the ring.

Back in the ring, Kofi hit a corner dropkick for two. Kofi followed up with a diving hurricanrana, but Sin Cara rolled through it for a two-count. Kalisto tagged in and hit a springboard crossbody, following up with a spinning heel kick and a Listo Kick on Big E.

Kalisto hit an enziguiri on Kofi, and Sin Cara hit him with a dive between the ropes. In the ring, Kalisto drilled Big E with Salina del Sol, but for some reason did not cover Big E. Woods jumped up on the apron and started yelling, while Kalisto tried to tag in Sin Cara.

Kofi pulled Sin Cara off the apron, and Big E and Kofi combined for their Big Ending/cutter finisher on Kalisto.

Scott’s Thoughts: That was a weird finish. It seemed like Kalisto forgot the finish for a moment, or perhaps Woods mistimed his distraction? It was very strange to see Kalisto hit his finisher and then just sit there doing nothing.


King Barrett def. Jack Swagger by pinfall

Swagger hit a belly-to-back suplex to open up the offense, following up with a clothesline. Barrett sent Swagger flying into the ring post, but Swagger responded with a jawbreaker. Barrett hit a Bullhammer Elbow out of nowhere to polish Swagger off.

R-Truth entered and Barrett said that Truth’s jokes and laughter will end at Battleground.

Scott’s Thoughts: It’s nice that WWE has found opponents far enough down the card for Barrett to actually defeat them.