WWE: Smackdown (01.07.16)

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WWE: Smackdown
January 7, 2016
Laredo, TX
Laredo Energy Arena

The current WWE champions are as follows:
WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns (12/14/2015)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Dean Ambrose (12/13/2015)
WWE United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio (10/25/2015)
WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day (8/23/2015)
WWE Divas Champion: Charlotte (9/20/2015)

I believe the last WWE PPV I watched from start to finish was Night of Champions. I think I left the house I was at in the middle of watching Hell in a Cell because it was so boring. I am not the hipster fan who enjoys NXT as much as other people. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down and watched an episode of RAW, so my WWE watching in the latter half of 2015 has been sparse to say the least. But when I read that Mauro Ranallo was joining WWE and would be the PBP commentator on Smackdown, my interest was piqued. I absolutely love GOOD wrestling commentators. When they put over the right things, when they feel like a friend sitting next to you, when they know how to show emotion and not still sound like a whiny little douche (I’m looking at you Michael Cole), when they do everything possible to assist you in suspending your disbelief. That’s what I love. Because even when wrestling is BAD or just not completely doing it for you, a good commentator can make it feel not so bad.

My mind went back and forth on how exactly would Ranallo work in WWE? He calls moves, he calls wrestling like he’s a fan, he doesn’t get overly “smart” like Joey Styles used to do, and he’s not Jim Ross. He’s everything Vince McMahon seems to hate about commentators because he’s a WRESTLING commentator. So I’m telling you all this to say that I am interested to see how Ranallo does on Smackdown. Will he become just another Michael Cole clone or has WWE finally realized that the Michael Cole style just isn’t cutting it. Would Mauro Ranallo come to WWE if there was a chance of them neutering the way he works? Jim Ross used to make matches more exciting than they probably were. For me, Michael Cole has never done that. None of the Michael Cole clones have done that. If you’re a fan of the Jim Ross style, Mauro Ranallo is as close as we will get – so long as the WWE machine doesn’t destroy the very thing that makes him unique.

Highlights are shown of This Past Monday Night on Raw when Vince McMahon was the special referee for the Roman Reigns versus Sheamus WWE title match. Low ratings call for McMahons, says USA Network.

Speaking of the USA Network, tonight is the night Smackdown makes the network it’s official home. Sure beats being on a science fiction channel for five years.

Your hosts are the debuting Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton. I wonder what Byron thinks of the Ranallo addition. Ranallo exclaims what a lifelong dream it is for him to be finally be here in WWE, but points out that it’s not about him because it’s about the WWE superstars! YES. Thank you.

John Cena heads down to the ring to kick off the show. Essentially, he’s the hype man for tonight’s show. He talks about Smackdown coming to the USA Network as some sort of big deal to fans, but who really cares, right? Both Raw and Smackdown are now on the same channel – that’s really all this means to us. Cena tries to parallel being on the USA Network to the US champion Alberto Del Rio. Cena gets him to come out and tries to make him look like a wuss so he can get another title shot. Del Rio isn’t falling for that garbage tonight. Since there won’t be a match between Del Rio and Cena, Del Rio does agree to fight anybody else. Cena has an idea; what about KALISTO? Apparently, he’s the 1-2-3 Kid of 2015. Wikipedia tells me he beat Ryback in the WWE title tournament back in November. He would lose to Alberto Del Rio in the quarterfinals. When Kalisto comes out, Del Rio asks Cena if he’s actually serious because this Kalisto guy is Rey Mysterio sized. Apparently, Cena is serious because he says Kalisto with every question Del Rio asks him. Del Rio asks Kalisto if he actually thinks he can beat him. Kalisto is quite confident that he’s going to beat him – right now. Del Rio piefaces him and we’re off to the races. Kalisto kicks him back and headscissors him to the floor.

  • Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (w/John Cena)

Now ring that bell. Cena remains at ringside continuing his WWE cheerleading duties. Del Rio pounds Kalisto in the corner, but he whips him into the ropes and Kalisto fires back with a handspring roundhouse kick. Del Rio bails again and takes a powder as we go to commercial. When we come back, Del Rio is shown working the neck and back. He hangs Kalisto through the ropes and running boots him on the side of the head. Back in, he puts Kalisto in the tree of woe. He charges Kalisto once and rams his shoulder into his guts, but misses a second time and runs his shoulder into the post. That mounts a comeback by Kalisto as he lands La Silla and a springboard corkscrew bodyblock. ADR blocks a headscissors though and hoists him up and back down with a sitout powerbomb for 1-2-NO! More punishment in the corner controlled by Del Rio. DDT spikes Kalisto on his head as he rolls to the floor by Cena. ADR antagonizes Cena and gets him riled up. After a toss into the barricade, Del Rio sends Kalisto back inside the ring to set up the CROSS ARMBREAKER, but Kalisto counters and gives Del Rio a hurracanrana finish for the upset win. (5:50 shown) Well, Del Rio is pretty embarrassed. Mauro calls it the biggest win of Kalisto’s career. No doubt. **

Mauro Ranallo does his first WWE Network pitch. I didn’t hate it.

In the back, JoJo gets a word from Becky Lynch. She’s out for vindication tonight against Charlotte. It was just friendly competition on Monday night when she beat Charlotte, but this time it will be anything but friendly.

Time for MizTV. A Smackdown staple, for sure. Miz starts to talk about the Royal Rumble when the New Day interrupts, and then Dolph Ziggler (with long flowing hair for some reason) interrupts, and then Goldust interrupts, and then Neville interrupts, and then R-Truth interrupts asking about accepting Alberto Del Rio’s open challenge to his US title that doesn’t even exist. Miz insults Truth by saying if he gives Truth a dollar, will he buy a clue? Xavier Woods in the background shouts that Truth is so broke, he can’t pay attention. This turns into Miz and New Day getting thrown out to the floor by the good guys and we take a break.

  • The New Day & The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler, Goldust, R-Truth & Neville

We come back to the show and we’re smack dab in an eight-man tag. Miz and Truth start us off here. Truth does his typical juking and jiving around the Miz. Tag to Goldust, they deliver a double-team hiptoss to Miz. He breaks away and tags in Kofi. The babyfaces work on his arm for a bit. In comes Neville, he shows off and hits the standing SSP. Neville gets a whip reversed into the corner, but he moonsaults away from Kofi and backdrops him over. Ten-count corner punch to Kofi, but Xavier trips up Neville while Big E has the ref. Commercials! When we return, New Day is taking turns stomping the crap out of Neville in their corner. This goes on for a while. Miz starts white guy dancing out on the floor while Xavier plays his trumpet. Mauro just made a Marx brothers reference and just became 100000x cooler to me. Back in the ring, Neville is getting worn down with holds. He comes back and flips Xavier out to the floor where he falls face first onto the steps. HOT TAG TO ZIGGLER! Stinger Splash, swinging neckbreaker, jumping elbow all to Miz gets two. Famouser connects and the match breaks down as the other three guys take out New Day. Neville delivers a somersault plancha on them. Meanwhile, Miz is left all alone with Goldust, Ziggler, and Truth. He tries to run, but Goldust and Truth grab him and send him in for SWEET CHIN MUSIC from Ziggler for the win. (7:46 shown) After the bell, Ziggler turns on the other three guys to show there are no friends in the Rumble. Not a heel turn, just sending them a message that January ain’t the time for pals. **½

JoJo catches Charlotte and Ric Flair walking by backstage and asks her about Becky Lynch. Flair compares his daughter to Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan saying that there are other people like Becky who want to leach off Charlotte and her success. Becky has never been a champion and doesn’t like act one. Ric Flair has been a champion his whole life. He is how a champion acts. Charlotte is an example of how a champion acts. So there ya go. WOO!

  • WWE Divas Champion Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch

Mauro – “Former best friends turned bitter enemies…” That’s all I need to know. Lawler finds Mauro Ranallo’s name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so he says he will now call him “MR”. When looking at Byron Saxton, Lawler says that makes him “BS”. I completely agree. And then Mauro turns it around and back onto the WWE talent. I love it. Charlotte and Becky feel each other out to start working on arms and legs. After about four minutes in, Becky gets Charlotte out on the apron and kicks her to the floor. Ric runs interference to keep Lynch away from his daughter, but then steps aside at just the right moment for Charlotte to run Lynch down with a big boot. WOO! Back inside, Charlotte mounts Lynch and gets real aggressive throwing forearms and elbows in her face. Exploder suplex gets two. How about another one. Commercials! When we come back, Charlotte is working a headscissors on the mat and pounding Becky’s head and flipping Becky all over the mat while still in the hold. Pretty cool. Becky had her head moving back and forth at one point which is not something you do while sitting in that hold. Becky escapes though by standing up and putting Charlotte on her shoulders. Instead of an electric chair drop, Lynch delivers the snake eyes. I guess it’s much safer on the head and neck. NOW HERE COMES BECKY! She connects with clotheslines and dropkicks. Exploder suplex gets 1-2-NO! Charlotte charges Becky though and hangs her in the ropes before dropping her with a neckbreaker for a series of two counts. Backslide battle goes nowhere and Becky ducks a big boot to take Charlotte over with a pumphandle suplex. Cover, 1-2-NO! Lynch goes for her finishing hold, but Charlotte escapes and lands the Spear. FIGURE-FOUR gets blocked and Becky grabs a cross armbreaker. She lets Charlotte stand up though allowing Charlotte to lift Lynch up. It could be a powerbomb of sorts, but Becky counters into a victory roll for 1-2-NO! DIS-ARM-HER! Becky gets Charlotte to tap out, but not before Flair puts his daughter’s foot on the bottom rope. When the ref goes to call for the bell, he sees the foot after Becky had already released the hold. Sorry, Becky. Ric Flair corner pin! Charlotte steals the three-count. (10:42 shown) Mauro does a GREAT JOB of putting over and showing his disdain at how devious Charlotte and her daddy are. Good divas match there. ***¼

They take us back to RAW when Dean Ambrose put Kevin Owen through the announce table with a flying elbow drop. Revenge is a dish best served with a side of elbow, says Mauro.

In the back, Renee Young asks for a minute of Kevin Owens time, so he literally times her. After the elbow drop, he feels fine because he’s a world class athlete. He’s taking his title back tonight and calls Dean Ambrose just another cockroach that he has to step on in his life. Oh look at that: time’s up.

RAW REBOUND. I’m not recapping these. If you want to know what happened, you know where else to look.

Back to the show, Renee Young brings out her loverboy Dean Ambrose. What can we expect of him tonight? Owens has done a lot of bad things to Ambrose, but his face still looks pretty much intact. Renee agrees. Owens calls himself a prize fighter and talks a big game. Well then, Ambrose has the prize he wants. He calls out to Owen to come out and fight. FIGHT OWENS FIGHT. Fight, Owens. Fight.

  • WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens

Tie-ups and headlocks to start. Ambrose goes for DIRTY DEEDS early, but Owens escapes and heads to the floor for a commercial break. When we return, Ambrose welcomes chops on his chest and then stomps a mudhole in Owens. After a little bit more of headlocks, Ambrose lands a sliding clothesline and elbow drop for two. Owens pushes the McGuinness Lariat out to the floor and then mocks the move itself teeter tottering in the ropes. Owens goes after Ambrose, but receives some ringside violence by Ambrose. Back inside, Owens catches Ambrose coming through the ropes and drops him with a DDT. Commercials! When we come back, Ambrose fights out of a chinlock and avoids a running senton. Ambrose delivers a running bulldog and comes off the top rope as Owens rushes him. He looks for DIRTY DEEDS again, but Owens backs him into the corner. Owens can prevent the Tornado DDT from happening for only so long as Ambrose gets another nearfall. Owens stops Ambrose up top and CANNONBALL SPLASHES Ambrose for two. POP-UP POWERBOMB is countered to a hurracanrana, but Owens stands up and superkicks Ambrose into the ropes for the Lunatic Lariat for 1-2-NO! Ambrose wins a slugfest, but then Owens runs him down with a clothesline. Back to the floor, Ambrose wipes out Owens with the tope suicida that takes Owens all the way over the announce table. The fight spills over the barricade as they both get counted out. (10:19 shown) Sometimes it beez that way. They brawl all the way around the arena back to the entrance ramp where Owens eats the WWE sign. This continues over to the equipment boxes where they both end up tossing each other off the boxes and crashing through some tables. This rivalry over the IC title has reached a FEVER PITCH~! Solid main event to close out the show. ***½

Final Thoughts: First off, Mauro was excellent. He worked exactly as I hoped he would. I just really hope this continues for him. As for the show, I’m hopeful Smackdown continues in this direction with more action and less talk and skits. This four match formula with longer matches is what works best for this show. Make Raw all about the skits and the talking and the what have you, make Smackdown your show where WWE gets to WRESTLE.

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Posted on January 9, 2016, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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