The Linus Report: WWE Smackdown, 23/07/2015

Rating:

Hey, it’s WWE Smackdown! It’s still very much a B-show but likes to pretend it’s an A-show! Awwww!

The show started with Dean Ambrose coming down to the ring for the opening match. Yay! And then out came his opponent, Sheamus. Booooo! Sheamus had a mic’ and said Ambrose had escaped him last week when Ambrose & The Big Show went through the announcers’ table, but there’d be no escape tonight. He proclaimed himself the next WWE World Heavyweight champion.

Ambrose said that Sheamus’s words got him thinking. The crowd chanted, “you look stupid!” at Sheamus and Ambrose said he was thinking they were right.

So they had a match and it was an okay match. I don’t know what it is with Sheamus but I just can’t connect with him. He was okay here, though, and didn’t throw Ambrose around like he does with some others sometimes. Maybe Daniel Bryan’s injury has changed things.

They did the “Ambrose selling his knee” thing, which is always good, honest, and Ambrose just about had the match won after hitting a topé suicida and then dragging Sheamus back in for the elbow off the top.

Then the arena went dark and Bray Wyatt slowly wandered out, doing his full entrance. When the lights came back on, Sheamus had rolled out of the ring and Luke Harper was standing on the announcers’ desk, making that noise he makes.

Ambrose weighed up his options and decided to go after Harper but Sheamus was waiting outside and hit the Brogue Kick. They went back into the ring, Sheamus hit another Brogue Kick (which makes no sense, since the first one should have killed him, right?) and then covered him for the pin. Roman Reigns, who is involved in a blood feud with Bray Wyatt and is Dean Ambrose’s BFF, was nowhere to be seen. I guess he had something else to do.

The announcers were shown and Todd “Tom” Phillips said that Jerry Lawler had the week off, so Byron Saxton was sitting in for him. Lawler’s brother died, so it’s understandable. This did mean that, for possibly the first time, the entire announce team was from a minority – African-American, Samoan-American, and Geek-American.

They hyped the Neville versus Stardust feud, with comic book graphics, and then threw backstage where JoJo was with Neville. Neville said Stardust was unlike anyone or anything he’d ever encountered. And he spent time in Japan. He said Stardust was a “nut” who thought he was a supervillain but he was really just a coward. As he walked off, the screen behind JoJo sputtered into life and Stardust was on there, laughing maniacally.

Hey, it’s Neville! We just saw him backstage, like, just before the last commercial break! He came down to the ring to fight Adam Rose, who didn’t get an entrance and didn’t have Rosa Mendes with him. I saw a still of Rose from his FCW days, alongside Dean Ambrose, and they both looked so sleazy and cool and I cried a little bit.

So, yeah, Neville and Rose had a match and it was a short, fine match, which built a little more elevation for Neville. He won with the Red Arrow, and then Stardust appeared on the big screen, having a party. Stardust made vague references to Green Arrows, and dropped Dusty Rhodes lines, and the whole time Neville just looked confused in the ring. Only in that confused way that only a (I’m sure he’s not in real life) thick Geordie can. Just odd.

They showed a video package on Sasha Banks, doing more for her in two minutes than a week and a half of TV have done. I miss the days when people would get weeks of hype videos and vignettes before they arrived. Remember when Edge was Blade? The announcers said that Banks teamed with Naomi against the Bellas later in the show.

Bad News Barrett came out and cut a talky. He said a lot without really saying anything. Poor fella.

The announcers hyped Kevin Owens versus Rusev, saying it was made because Owens walked out on Rusev on Raw on Monday, and then they showed re-caps from Battleground and Raw – basically, a week in the life of Kevin Owens.

Hey, it’s Kevin Owens! He came down to the ring for his match with Rusev but grabbed a mic’ and cut a talky first. He said all he’d heard since Battleground was people chanting, “Tap Owens Tap”, but really no-one was or did even when he prompted them. He said it didn’t matter that he tapped, because he gave Cena the toughest match of his career. He said he wasn’t the one with the “Never Give Up” motto – his outlook was more “live to fight another day,” and that’s exactly what he did at Battleground.

He said that he didn’t care what anyone thought, he’d always do what’s best for his family, and that’s why he walked out on Rusev on Raw, because when he’d seen Sheamus walk out beforehand, he knew there was no point sticking around. He said Rusev’s problem wasn’t him, it was knowing which Lana he wanted to get to second base with.

That brought out Rusev, with Summer Rae, and they went straight into a match, the bell ringing nanoseconds before they locked up. They had a HOSS fight and it was pretty good considering it was never going to go to a decision. Owens was on top until Rusev hit a side kick and then went to lock on the Accolade. Owens escaped and walked out of the match, waving off the referee and accepting the count-out loss. The crowd booed but the announcers explained that he was doing exactly what he’d said he would do, and live to fight another day.

Backstage, Rich Brennan was with Cesaro. Cesaro said he’d taken John Cena to the limit and tonight he would fight Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight title. He talked about his career to this point and his love for the business. He said he wanted to prove hard work paid off and the American Dream never dies.

Kevin Owens walked up and mocked him. He said he beat Cena on his first night, and accomplished more that night than Cesaro had in his whole WWE career. He said Cesaro had abandoned his family by being on the road so much. Handbag!

Cesaro asked Owens if he’d just come from catering (a fat joke!) but then said, no, he’d just come from walking out on another match. Owens said he was on his way to catering (own that joke!) to watch Cesaro lose to Rollins. Cesaro told him to do what he does best and “Walk Owens Walk”, and Owens sarcastically wished him luck…

Hey, it’s Team Naomi! They came down to the ring and they went to a commercial break. During the break, Naomi, Tamina & Sasha Banks took selfies with the front row. Then they pressed DELETE on every picture, the rotters.

After the break, Team Bella came out, and Nikki & Brie had a match with Banks & Naomi. If Nikki Bella’s shorts were any lower cut I swear we’d have been able to see vagina. The match was okay, and on the good side of okay. Not quite good but getting there and they all worked hard. Nikki got the win for Team Bella after hitting the Rack Attack on Naomi, and they might – with a massive dollop of luck – pull this thing off.

Interestingly, on that Twitter thing, Team Bella tried to recruit Bayley from NXT this week but she turned them down. Smart girl, that Bayley.

The announcers hyped the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Southpaw, and then the Tough Enough trainers talked about Gyllenhaal’s training for the move. A movie about boxing. Yeah, I don’t know.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Seth Rollins versus Cesaro for the WWE World Heavyweight title! And I totally believe that there could be a title change on this B-show! Rollins came down to the ring and they went to a commercial break. During the break, Rollins stood in the ring, pretending to file his nails, because he didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone.

After the break, Cesaro came out, and they had a match. It was a pretty good match, and easily in the top twenty WWE matches of the year so far. On a B-show!

They went back and forth and Cesaro looked really good, and certainly worthy of the title shot. Rollins also looked good against an opponent he could go toe-to-toe with without having to protect an aura or a push. Lesson there.

Cesaro pushed Rollins to the point that left the ring, grabbed his title, and went to walk out, which would have given Cesaro a victory over the world champion, albeit by count-out. Cesaro ain’t made like that, y’all, and he ran around the ring and smashed Rollins with an uppercut.

Cesaro rolled Rollins back into the ring, and Rollins tried to hit Cesaro with the title belt. Cesaro blocked it and dropped Rollins for the giant swing. While the referee was dumping the title belt out of the ring, Rollins poked Cesaro in the eye and then hit the Pedigree for the win. After the match, Kevin Owens rushed the ring and hit Cesaro with a pop-up powerbomb. And that’s your show.

This was a Good Show. It really was. Everything was on point, and – at least if you’re using the Duggan button to go through all the stuff you’ve already seen from Raw – there was no wasted time. Smackdown can be a chore but it can also be rewarding. Tonight was one of the latter ones.

 

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