WWE Thursday Night SmackDown opens with Daniel Bryan. He says that, ever since Fastlane, week after week, he has tried his hardest to ignore the giant Wrestlemania sign. But he can’t ignore it anymore. He has to accept that he can’t repeat his WM last year, when the Yes! Movement took him all the way to the WM main event. That door has closed, but when one closes, another opens. A couple of weeks ago, he was in the ring, surrounded by the WWE superstars, fighting for the IC title. And that got him thinking about the guy who were his heroes, when he watched WM. Guys like Mr. Perfect, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, HBK and Randy Savage. They were all IC champs at WM, and when they were, they were more exciting than anything going on in the World title division. And, he also realized one more thing: since he has been in WWE, the only title he hasn’t won is the IC title. So…even though he can’t repeat last year, he can create a new moment this year. He made a request, and he’s out here to announce he’s officially in the IC title ladder match at WMXXXI.
Bad News Barrett (still sans belt) comes and says he has some bad news. Despite what everyone seems to think, he’s still the champion. After WM, he will remain the champion. So, you could say that will make BNB Bryan’s new hero.
Dolph Ziggler comes out next. He says BNB may never be Bryan’s hero, but he is Ziggler’s hero. Ziggler has never met someone so delusional and desperate to be relevant in his life. BNB is the champion, but where is the title? He can’t hang onto the belt. How’s he going to retain it against six hungry stars throwing him off ladders at WM?
Luke Harper joins the party now. He says he wants his WM moment and points to the sign. He and Bryan go nose-to-nose for a moment, until…
Dean Ambrose marches down to the ring and says if these guys think they can get in the ring and throw fists without inviting him, they need to be locked up for observation. If no one can wait until WM, he’s fine mixing it up in a fight, and he’ll do it with anyone in the ring.
Stardust charges down to the ring, looking all over for something. He asks where his white stallion of the Milky Way? Where is the ivory enterprise?
R-Truth comes out, and he’s carrying what is likely the title belt in a burlap sack. He opens the sack, and that’s exactly what’s in it. He starts talking to the belt. He knows BNB is the champion, but he’s going to hold onto the belt for safe-keeping, at least until WM. Even though he’s scared of heights, he’s climbing the ladder. BNB says he won’t make it to the second rung before pulling Truth back down. Truth pulls a page out of the Frank Rizzo playbook and calls BNB “sizzlechest”. He says possession is 9/10 of the law, so that makes him the big boss man. #ComeGetIt (his words). BNB says that’s his and starts to leave the ring, but a brawl breaks out before that can happen. Bryan tosses BNB before Ziggler does the same to Stardust. Harper gets backdropped by Ambrose, and now he, Ziggler and Bryan are the last three left in the ring.
We’ll have an exclusive interview with Randy Orton later tonight.
MATCH 1: KOFI KINGSTON, XAVIER WOODS AND THE USOS (JEY & JIMMY) (W/BIG E AND NAOMI) VS. LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO), AND WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS CESARO & TYSON KIDD (W/EL TORITO AND NATALYA)
We get an inset promo from Los Matadores, who say that, after losing to the tag champs last week, they made the decision to do whatever it takes to win the belts and claim their WM moment.
Kofi starts off with one of the Matadors. Kofi gets thrown to the corner and stomped down. Kofi avoids a corner whip and hits a dropkick out of the corner for 1. Woods tags in and comes off the middle with a forearm for 2. The two crisscross until Woods hits another forearm for 2. The Matador comes back and tags in the other Matador, who hits a dropkick. Woods comes back with punches and a kick. One of the Usos makes the blind tag and hits a few chops, followed by a back-body drop out of the corner. This is Jimmy. Jimmy hits a European uppercut out of the corner, but then gets distracted by apparently Diego on the apron as he goes for the corkscrew moonsault. That makes Fernando the man in the ring, and he proceeds to crotch Jimmy on the top buckle. Fernando knocks him to the floor as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Jimmy is fighting out of a Fernando headlock. Fernando sends him face-first into the middle rope and lands across Jimmy’s back while simultaneously tagging out. Diego comes in and hits a slingshot elbow for 2 beofre going into a rear chinlock. Jimmy escapes, misses a reverse Dragon Whip, keeps spinning and connects on the second try. Jey tags in, as does Kidd. Jey nails Kidd with several strikes, ducks a clothesline and hits a Samoan drop. He hits the running hip attack in the corner before Kofi tags himself in. Kofi hits a springboard cross-body for 2, only to have Cesaro break it up. Woods comes in to fight off Cesaro, leading one of the Matadors to come in. A miscommunication leads to the Matador clotheslining Cesaro to the floor. Woods then sends him flying. Before Woods goes for a dive. One of the Usos comes in and hits one of his own. Woods tops him by hitting a somersault plancha, only to wipe out one of the Usos on accident. In the ring, Kidd hits a slingshot roll-up for 2, only to have Kofi reverse it for 2. Kofi goes for another one, but Cesaro blasts him with a European uppercut from the floor. One of the Usos takes Cesaro out with a superkick. In the ring, Kidd goes for Just Kidding, only to have one of the Matadors tag in. Kofi goes for TIP on Kidd, Kidd ducks, and the Matador gets blasted. On the other side of the ring, one of the Usos prevents Cesaro from interfering. As the referee is distracted, Los Matadores switch places, and Kofi gets hit with a Backstabber for 3, with a handful of tights.
WINNERS: CESARO, TYSON KIDD AND LOS MATADORES.
Connor “The Crusher” Michalek is the newest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, and the first recipient of the Warrior Award. Honestly, this is my favorite thing that WWE has done since, well, probably ever. Connor was an amazingly special kid, and it’s obvious he meant everything to everyone in WWE.
[adinserter block=”2″]Ryback comes out for his match with the Miz, and now Renee Young is standing by with the Miz and Damien Mizdow. She calls Ryback one of the favorites in the Andre battle royal. Miz laughs and says he’s one of the most decorated superstars in WWE. Mizdow starts mocking Miz. Miz says he hasn’t gotten the Andre trophy yet, but when he puts his mind to something, he wins, which makes him the odds-on favorite. He calls Ryback brainless, and Mizdow responds that Ryback is a 295-lb. machine (I call BS, but whatever). Miz cuts him off and says he can beat Ryback, AND do it by himself. He doesn’t need Mizdow. What he needs Mizdow to do is press his pants and get him a macchiado or some such bullsh*t.
MATCH 2: RYBACK VS. THE MIZ
Miz has the worst entrance and pre-match ceremony ever. The two lock up, and Miz applies a side headlock. Ryback powers him up to the top rope and leaves him there before taunting him. Miz charges, so Ryback snaps him down on his face. Miz hits a couple back elbows, then runs into one from Ryback. Ryback hits a delayed vertical suplex as we see Mizdow watching on a monitor. Miz rolls to the apron and hits a hotshot. Back in the ring, Miz hits a few shots. Ryback comes back with his own, but then runs shoulder-first into the ring post. Miz chokes him on the middle rope, then drops a leg across his back for 2. Ryback blocks a snapmare, but then takes a few kicks and a boot to the head. Ryback blocks a second attempt and drops Miz with a spinebuster. Ryback blasts Miz with the Meat Hook, hits Shell Shocked and gets 3.
We see Mizdow laughing at what he just witnessed.
Roman Reigns heads down to the ring. We cut to what Paul Heyman said about Brock Lesnar on RAW. Back to Reigns, he says Heyman claims he knows Reigns and his family. The reality is Heyman just disrespected them all. He says the Anoa’i clan is just three generations removed from cannibals. Who says that? Heyman takes every opportunity he can to tell Reigns he can’t. If there are two things Reigns won’t accept, they are people disrespecting his family, and telling him he can’t. He can, and at WM, he’s going to represent his Samoan blood and win the WWE title, and you can believe…
Mark Henry marches down to the ring. Apparently, he still works here. Henry says he was listening to Reigns, and he just had to come out here. Either Reigns is a comedian, or one too many coconuts fell on his head. Henry doesn’t like anyone talking about his heritage either, but Reigns needs to understand Heyman has gotten under Reigns’ skin. He talked about Reigns’ heritage, then told him he can’t. Reigns says he can, and Henry disagrees. He’s the strongest man in the world. He knows who he is, which is more than he can say for Reigns. He’s been in the ring with Lesnar. Lesnar broke his arm and damn-near killed him with an F-5 on the floor. Is Reigns ready for that? Henry doesn’t think so. Reigns starts to say “With all due respect”, but Henry cuts him off. He says Lesnar doesn’t respect Reigns. The fans don’t respect him. The boys in the locker room don’t respect him. Reigns has to earn his respect here. Nobody is going to give it to him. Reigns starts to leave, but Henry stops him. This is what he’s talking about. The young bucks think they know it all and have done it all. Reigns hasn’t been anywhere. Henry then slugs him, and Reigns responds with a quick Superman Punch. Henry rolls to the floor, and Reigns goes after him, spearing him through the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area. Reigns says to hell with “I can’t”. He can, and he will. Believe that!
MATCH 3: AJ LEE AND PAIGE VS. CAMERON AND SUMMER RAE (W/EVA MARIE)
Sweet merciful crap. The Bellas are on commentary AGAIN. Mute time. Cameron and Paige start off, and Paige immediately takes Cameron down with a boot to the gut. She throws Cameron face-first into the buckles, then tags in AJ, who hits a roundhouse. Cameron gets sent to the corner, where AJ hits a splash and a neckbreaker. She hits a spinning back-kick to the gut, then goes after Rae on the apron. The temporary distraction allows Cameron to hit AJ from behind. Cameron then hits a split-kick for 2, remembering to turn her opponent onto her back for the pin this time. Rae tags in and, and they hit a series of garbage double-teams for 2. Rae applies a rear chinlock, then whips AJ down by the neck before knocking Paige off the apron. Cameron tags in and stomps AJ in the corner before tagging in Rae. AJ fights them both off, then hits Cameron with a clothesline. Paige tags in and hits Rae with a trio of short-arm clotheslines, followed by a dropkick off the ropes. Paige ducks a clothesline, hits her big side kick and locks in the PTO for the quick submission win.
WINNERS: AJ LEE AND PAIGE.
AJ and Paige start to leave, but turn back when Nikki throws her hat at them. Yes, her hat. She then tops that by throwing her jacket. Tough broad right there, I assure you.
We see a trainer checking on Mark Henry. Renee Young steps in for an interview and asks if he was intentionally antagonizing Roman Reigns earlier. He says he was. He’s invested his whole career in WWE, and tonight, Reigns made a believer out of Henry. He pushed, and Reigns pushed back. He doesn’t know if Reigns can beat Lesnar, but he believes he can.
Earlier today, Michael Cole sat down for an interview with Randy Orton. Cole goes back four months, when Orton was excommunicated from the Authority. We see the clips, and Cole asks him how that effected him emotionally. Orton says something changed in him that day. The four months he was off, all he could think about was his revenge on the Authority, especially Seth Rollins. Cole says Orton wove his way back into the Authority. Orton agrees, but he had his blinders on for Rollins. He thought he’d get back at Rollins at Fastlane, but Orton saw an opportunity present itself. He’s an opportunist, and yes, he wove his way back in. He was just biding his time. The mind games were fun. Cole points out Orton helped Rollins beat Reigns a couple weeks ago. Orton says he’s not friends with Reigns. He used Reigns, and he’d do the same to anyone if that meant he could get to Rollins. He knew that would solidify his position in the Authority and keep them believing. This past RAW, he used reverse psychology, and berating the Authority was the last thing anyone would expect. At that moment, he knew he’d get his revenge, and it would be sweet. The revenge happened later on in a handicap match with Reigns. Orton points out that Kane and Big Show have imploded and were sent home. The two giants were out of the way. During the 2-on-1, J&J got in the way, and Orton took care of them. Now four were out of the picture, and it was down to Orton and Rollins. When Rollins needed a tag, and Orton pulled back…what motivates men? Fear. He saw fear in Rollins, and it lit something up in Orton. He enjoyed beating the hell out of Rollins after the match. All the weight of the world was off his shoulders at once during that assault. When he put Rollins through a table with an RKO, it was just relief. He enjoyed every second. Cole says there will be hell to pay. Orton says he’ll pay. It was worth it. Cole asks what is the first thing Orton will do this Monday on RAW. Orton says he’ll find Rollins, spit in his face and challenge him to a match at WM.
MATCH 4: DANIEL BRYAN, DEAN AMBROSE AND DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. LUKE HARPER, STARDUST AND INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION BAD NEWS BARRETT
Ambrose and BNB start with Ambrose applying a side headlock. Ambrose hits a shoulder off the ropes, goes into a crisscross and hits a clothesline. Ambrose drops a power-drive elbow, then applies his version of the Regal Stretch before tagging in Ziggler. Ziggler applies an arm wringer, which BNB counters. He tags in Stardust, who nails a fist off the top rope. Rhodes goes for a corner whip, gets it reversed, and collides chest-first with the buckles. Bryan tags in and comes in off the top with a double axe handle. Bryan applies a surfboard, then drops Stardust back to his knees for a chinlock. Stardust breaks free and tags in BNB, who gets hit with a drop-toehold. Bryan hits a series of European uppercuts before BNB attacks Bryan in the corner. Stardust tags back in and hits a couple of corner headbutts. Bryan reverses a corner whip and hits a running dropkick. Up top, Bryan hits a super hurricanrana, then calls for the knee. Stardust sees it coming and bails to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Harper is now legal for his team, and he gets a 1-count on Bryan before applying the Gator Roll, then turning it into a side headlock. Bryan gets to his feet and tries to power himself to the corner for a tag, but Harper snaps him down by the hair. BNB tags in and throws Bryan to the corner. He sets Bryan across the top buckle and clubs him across the back before hitting a running kick to the gut for 2. Stardust tags in, and he hits a few strikes before tagging in Harper. Harper goes for a slam, but Bryan counters into a schoolboy for 2 before nailing a Buzzsaw. He crawls to his corner and tags in Ambrose as Stardust also tags in. Ambrose hits a splash in the corner and follows up with a running bulldog. Ambrose hits a back suplex into a facebuster for 2 as Harper breaks it up. Harper pulls Ambrose to the floor, but Ambrose sends him into the barricade. Stardust charges at Ambrose on the apron, and Ambrose low-bridges him to the floor. Up top, Ambrose takes out both Harper and Stardust with a flying elbow. Back in the ring, Stardust nails Ambrose, only to have Ambrose rebound with a clothesline. He signals for Dirty Deeds, but lets go when BNB tries to interfere. Ambrose boots BNB in the head, then rolls to the floor to slam him face-first into the announce desk. Harper then drops Ambrose with a big boot. Commercials.
[adinserter block=”2″]We’re back, and BNB is nailing Ambrose with knees while he’s tied up in the ropes. BNB hits a big boot for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. Ambrose fights out, but gets put back down quickly before Stardust tags in. Stardust attacks Ambrose in the corner and goes for a superplex, but Ambrose reverses into a release gourdbuster from the top. Ambrose then hits a seated missile dropkick. Ziggler and Harper tag in, and Ziggler goes on the attack, hitting a corner splash and a neckbreaker. The Shot to the Heart connects for 2. He goes for the rocker dropper, misses, nails BNB on the apron, then nails Harper with a dropkick. The rocker dropper connects for 2, and Ziggler then nails Stardust on the apron. Harper rolls Ziggler up for 2, then gets nailed with a superkick for 2 as Stardust breaks it up. Bryan takes Stardust out with a big kick, then backdrops BNB to the floor. Bryan, Ambrose and Ziggler line up, looking for a trio of suicide dives. Bryan and Ambrose connect, but Ziggler is put down with a big boot by Harper. Harper hits a sit-out powerbomb, but only gets 2. Harper picks Ziggler up in a torture rack, but Ziggler counters with the Zig-Zag. He falls into a tag from Bryan, who nails Harper with the running knee for 3.
WINNERS: DEAN AMBROSE, DANIEL BRYAN AND DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Michael Cole enters the ring and congratulates Bryan on the pin. Bryan thanks him, only to have Ziggler cut Bryan off. Bryan stole one for the team, but he gets it. It’s every man for himself. Last year, Bryan had Lady Luck on his side. This year, he’s all alone, and Ziggler’s out there, too. Just remember that. Ambrose interjects and gives both men a half-assed congratulations. He says they stole the show, just like everyone’s been stealing the IC title, which was his original idea. Back to the jealousy between Ziggler and Bryan. He thinks Ziggler doesn’t believe he’s as good as Bryan, and that bothers him. And Bryan is very good, and everyone thinks he’s nice, but everyone in the locker room knows the truth: Bryan’s a turd.
End of show.