This week’s WWE SmackDown opens up with a video package for the main event for Battleground, a triple threat for the WWE World title with Dean Ambrose defending against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns…which will now have to be changed due to Reigns getting his first wellness violation this week.
We are in Tuscon, AZ, and the show kicks off with Rollins coming down to the ring for a promo. He talks about how parents tell kids they can achieve anything they set their minds to. If MITB taught him anything, it’s that parents are big, fat liars. No one outworks Rollins. He came back from an injury in record time and did exactly what he said he would do, which was pin the Reigns, the paper champion. That was his dream, but is he out here with the World title? No, because that scumbag Ambrose stole his title. And to make matters worse, instead of taking a one-on-one rematch for the belt, Rollins has to go through both Ambrose and Reigns at Battleground (see the opening sentence). Rollins has no problem with that, because he’ll prove that he deserves the belt on that night. Tonight, he’s going to prove he’s more of a man than Ambrose could ever be by issuing a one-on-one open challenge for match in the main event tonight. Who’s it going to be?
Sami Zayn’s music hits almost immediately, and he makes his way out here. Rollins cracks wise about his “master”, Kevin Owens. Rollins then calls him the perfect person to make an example of later tonight. If Zayn wants it, he’s got it. It couldn’t be any better than…this.
On that note, Ambrose comes out. Ambrose calls for the set for the “Ambrose Asylum” to be put up. We are now officially on Ambrose’s mini talk show: Championship Edition (Ambrose draws the WWE title on his sign after saying this). He introduces Zayn and Rollins as his guests. Rollins hates this, while Zayn thinks it’s fun. Ambrose’s first question is why Rollins is being such a jackass. Rollins doesn’t have time for this. Ambrose says he has a poor attitude. Zayn then asks why we have to wait for the main event to do this match. Ambrose says he asks the questions, then repeats what Zayn just asked. Rollins says they do things his way, on his time. He’ll see Zayn later tonight, and he doesn’t care if he sees Ambrose again before Battleground before stomping off. Ambrose officially announces the Zayn/Rollins main event, then ends the show.
Holy balls, David Otunga is filling in for the suspended Jerry Lawler (due to a domestic violence arrest of both him and his fiance’). Yes, Otunga still has a job. Who the hell knows why, though.
Tonight, Apollo Crews will face Sheamus in a rematch from MITB, and Becky Lynch has to try to make Dana Brooke look passable. HA! Up next, Cesaro vs. Alberto Del F**kface.
MATCH 1: ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. CESARO
Inset promo from ADR. No one cares. Shut the hell up with your fake accent, you arse-biscuit. We get one from Cesaro as well. He’s not jealous of ADR, and if ADR has a problem, he should take a swing and see what happens.
ADR starts off with a corner thigh-slap and a few stomps. Cesaro runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then taunts the crowd. Cesaro hits two tilt-a-whirls himself, then a third off a missed clothesline. Uppercut Train gets going early in the match, and Cesaro calls for the Very European Uppercut. ADR sees it coming and bails. Cesaro wipes him out with a cannonball from the apron. Back in, ADR hotshots the arm and follows up with a step-up thigh-slap. Commercials.
Back from the break, ADR wastes a bunch of time on the top before flailing off for 2. Apparently, that was supposed to be a double axe handle. He goes for an armbar, but Cesaro gets a corner break. He sets ADR up for a superplex, but ADR pulls him down into a jujigatame over the ropes for a 4-count. ADR heads up top once more and dives right into a European uppercut. They trade some punches before Cesaro wipes ADR out with a bunch of Europeans. He ducks a clothesline and hits a corkscrew European from the middle for 2. ADR kicks out of the Cesaro Swing before taking a double-stomp for another 2. ADR escapes a suplex and turns it into a Backstabber for 2. ADR signals for the thrusting thigh-slap, which connects for 2. Cesaro blocks a corner charge by throwing ADR up onto the top, then hits a dropkick. Cesaro sets up the superplex, but ADR fights him off. Cesaro falls into the tree of woe, which is the set up for the double-stomp. However, Cesaro muscles himself up and armdrags ADR off. Cesaro is up top now, where he misses a cross-body. ADR goes into the rolling juijgatame, but Cesaro immediately rolls through right into the Neutralizer for 3.
Nice finishing sequence. Cesaro did it very smoothly in practically one fluid motion.
MATCH 2: SHEAMUS VS. APOLLO CREWS
Honestly, I think the only reason these two are feuding is because Vince finally remembered they both work here and hadn’t been doing anything. Hell, Sheamus got a major part in the new TMNT movie, and I never heard WWE, normally the embodiment of free publicity and sheamless plugs, mention it even once until last week. Gotta love Crews’ entrance music, recycled from one of the 2K games.
Before we get underway, I have to laugh at David Otunga. He’s talking about how both he and Sheamus are thespians, with Otunga having a role in the WWE film The Call with Halle Berry. He talks about how when he was away filming, he was worried about losing his spot. WHAT SPOT, YOU ASS?! The guy hasn’t had a televised match in several years outside of being cannon fodder in a couple of battle royals!
With that out of my system, onto the match. Sheamus goes on the attack with some shots to the gut and some clubbing blows in the corner. Crews comes back with a few forearms before he ducks a clothesline and takes Sheamus to the floor with a cross-body. Outside, Crews sends Sheamus into the ring steps, then rolls him back in, where Crews hits a corner splash and another cross-body. Sheamus gets his feet up on a corner charge and goes for the Irish Curse. Crews breaks free and hits a gamengiri. A standing moonsault gets 2. Sheamus catches him with a kitchen sink and an Irish Hammer before setting up the 10 Beats of the Bodhran. Sheamus stops himself before 10 and nails a forearm to the back. Crews escapes a suplex back into the ring, then low-bridges Sheamus to the floor. Crews comes off the apron with a flying clothesline and clubs away until Sheamus hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam on the floor. He grabs the bottom half of the ring steps and stands them on end. Crews nails him with a forearm and a dropkick, sending Sheamus back-first into the apron. Sheamus prevents Crews from coming back in the ring with a kick to the head. Sheamus with a few more punches before nailing a Brogue Kick to the back, sending Crews shoulder-first into the steps from before. Sheamus back in, and he takes a count-out win.
WINNER VIA COUNT-OUT: SHEAMUS.
We see the Club in the back, and they’re talking about all of the ass-whippings they’ve given John Cena recently. It’s the Usos! Superkick, Uce! Family! What? Uce! The Club forget their names. One of the Usos tries to rap. It’s embarrassing. He then challenges AJ Styles to a one-on-one match tonight. Styles agrees to it and offers to keep the rest of the Club away from the match. The Usos fake out a handshake. I hate them. Apparently, that was Jimmy, for those keeping score.
MATCH 3: JIMMY USO (W/JEY USO) VS. AJ STYLES
Jimmy and Styles trade arm wringers before Styles goes for a side headlock. Jimmy reverses before hitting a shoulder. Dancing. Stop that. Styles trips him and goes into a side headlock of his own. They go back to trading arm wringers. Styles gets a corner break off a side headlock. He misses a shot and takes a couple chops to the chest. Jimmy slides off a corner whip and lands an uppercut before a clothesline sends Styles to the outside. Styles blocks a baseball slide, spins Jimmy around and slams him face-first into the ring steps. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that spot before. Back in the ring, Styles stomps Jimmy into oblivion, then catapults him under the bottom rope. Styles grinds Jimmy down with a chinlock, only for Jimmy to fight out. Reverse Dragon Whip connects, but Styles stays on his feet and hits the Pele. He lands on the apron out of a corner backdrop and goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, only for Jimmy to meet him with a mid-air superkick. Jimmy connects with several strikes before the Alley-Uce gets 2. Styles pulls himself to the corner, where he avoids the running hip attack. Styles runs into another superkick. We see Jey looking up the ramp for the rest of the Club before they’ve come out. Way to keep kayfabe, buddy. Sure as shite, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson assault Jey at ringside moments later. Jimmy takes them out with a tope suicida. Styles follows up with a slingshot forearm to the back of Jimmy’s head. Back in the ring, Styles nails the Phenomenal Forearm for 3.
WINNER: AJ STYLES.
MATCH 4: THE VAUDEVILLAINS (AIDEN ENGLISH AND SIMON GOTCH) VS. WWE TAG TEAM BIG E AND KOFI KINGSTON (W/XAVIER WOODS)
The ‘Villains get the jobber non-entrance. We go back to RAW, where the Wyatt Family made their return. Too bad their gimmick was killed long ago and no one cares anymore.
Gotch and Kofi start with a series of reversals before English makes a blind tag and goes to work on Kofi with punches. English drops a knee and tags in Gotch. The ‘Villains land a couple double-teams before English tags back in. He grinds his forearm into Kofi’s face and hits a corner hip attack. Kofi comes back with a pair of knees to the face. Gotch and E tag in, with E immediately hitting a pair of overhead belly-to-bellies. A standard version comes next, and more damn dancing. There are too many wrestlers that dance in WWE right now. E hits the Warrior Splash as English comes back in the ring. He sends Kofi flying before getting backdropped to the outside. Kofi comes off the steps with a dive on English. E blocks an O’Connor Roll as Kofi makes a blind tag. The Midnight Hour gets 3.
WINNERS: BIG E AND KOFI KINGSTON.
Much like the Ascension before them, the Vaudevillains are dead before they get off the ground because Vince doesn’t “get them”.
The Wyatts appear on the Titan-Tron. Bray Wyatt speaks, and asks what have the New Day done with the power of positivity? They interrupted the “Eater of Worlds”. That will be a painful mistake. Pain demands to be felt. Everyone will bow, and he promises that New Day falls. Run.
More Darren Young/Bob Backlund stuff. This is about goals. Young’s current goals are to win a singles title and headline Wrestlemania. Bob Backlund has done both (sort of).
There’s some new jackass doing backstage interviews. He’s with Sami Zayn, and we go back to a backstage fight on RAW between Zayn and Kevin Owens. Back to Zayn, he says he wants to put this feud to rest, and things didn’t go to plan on RAW. Onto tonight, beating Seth Rollins will make a huge statement. He’s not worried about Owens and Rollins shouldn’t be worried about Dean Ambrose. He should be worried about Zayn kicking his face off.
We get a promo from Charlotte and Dan Brooke with Renee Young. This is excruciating. Charlotte is now referrring to herself as “The Queen”. Brooke is making an obscene amount of hand gestures. Her promos are worse than Charlotte’s
MATCH 5: BECKY LYNCH VS. DANA BROOKE (W/CHARLOTTE)
Nope. Not going to do it. As great as Becky Lynch is (and she absolutely is), they’re trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shite with Brooke. To quote Will Darnell in the movie Christine, “You know, Pepper…you can’t polish a turd.”
Hearing Mauro being forced to refer to Brooke as “ultra athletic” makes me want to barf. Brooke wins with a g*ddamn small package.
WINNER: DANA BROOKE.
Best spot of the match was Lynch’s inverted hammerlock DDT. Hell, it was practically the only spot, outside of some punches. After the match, Brooke tries to hit Lynch with the fireman’s carry driver, but Lynch escapes and hits the Bex-Plex. Charlotte puts Lynch down with a big boot before Sasha Banks hits the ring. She chases Charlotte out of the ring, then locks an incoming Brooke in the Banks Statement.
Seth Rollins crosses paths with Dean Ambrose in the back. Ambrose says he’ll be at ringside for the main event, then follows Rollins.
MATCH 6: SETH ROLLINS VS. SAMI ZAYN
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time these two have faced each other in a one-on-one match since joining the main roster. As promised, Ambrose is at ringside, doing colour commentary. He busts out a little Jerky Boys/Frank Rizzo line to Rollins, which I appreciate. As Zayn comes out, I can’t be the only one to notice how much his entrance theme sounds like the theme from America’s Funniest Videos. WWE was trying to go for a ska sound and failed.
The match starts with Rollins smacking Zayn across the back of the head, then applying a side headlock. He hits a shoulder off the ropes, then does the Austin Aries corner taunt. Rollins goes back to the headlock before the two crisscross. Zayn comes back with a pair of armdrags and a shoulder thrust from the apron. Zayn comes back in with a spinning headscissors, Rollins backdrops out of the corner, eats a forearm, then hits one of his own off a springboard attempt. Outside, Rollins slams Zayn face-first into the announce desk. Back in, Rollins connects with a clothesline. Commercials.
Back from the break, Rollins stomps Zayn down in the corner. Rollins catches a mule kick before they take turns blocking suplexes. Rollins hits a falcon arrow for 2. Rollins lands a big corner forearm, then slaps Zayn around. He connects with a second forearm and a Sling Blade gets 2. Rollins kicks Zayn around a bit and laughs, so Zayn takes his head off with a clothesline. Byron Saxton says Zayn has earned the nickname of the “Underground Underdog of the Underground”, because Saxton is a complete tool. Zayn pounds Rollins in the corner. Rollins bails off an Irish whip, so Zayn nails him with another clothesline. Back in, Zayn hits a nice cross-body from the top for 2. Rollins rolls to the apron, where Zayn tries for a suplex. Rollins lands on his feet, and they go through a couple counters before Zayn hits a blue thunderbomb for 2. Zayn calls for the Helluva Kick, but Rollins surprises him with a kick to the face. The buckle bomb connects, but Zayn blocks a low superkick and turns it into a schoolboy for 2. Zayn counters the Pedigree with a tornado DDT. Rollins sees the Helluva Kick coming and bails to the floor yet again. Zayn wipes him out with a tope con hilo, then rolls him back in. Rollins, however, immediately catches him with a Pedigree for the 3.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS.
Good match, but why the hell is Rollins still using the Pedigree? The Authority faction is dead and Triple H barely has any presence on TV. There isn’t a better finisher for him? What’s wrong with the diving DDT?
After the match, Rollins attacks Ambrose at ringside. Ambrose shakes it off and goes on the attack. Rollins escapes Dirty Deeds and heads up the ramp.
END OF SHOW.