I’ll be back to the normal schedule next week so just one more early Smackdown, unless you like them early. I normally have them done before the show is on the air and could easily post them early if you prefer. Let me know which way you like me doing them.
Date: July 16, 2015
Location: Legacy Arena, Birmingham, Alabama
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Jimmy Uso, Jerry Lawler
It’s the go home show for Battleground and this past Monday’s show saw the destruction of Kane at the hands of Brock Lesnar, meaning Seth Rollins is all alone on Sunday. My guess is that this week’s show will focus on Wyatt vs. Reigns, which is all but set yet still needs a few more details. Like why Wyatt is doing anything and why he just dropped the stuff with Reigns’ daughter. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Reigns to open the show. This all started at Money in the Bank when Wyatt cost him the match, but Bray isn’t in his head and Bray can’t break his focus. Tonight we have Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns vs. Big Show/Sheamus and it’s time to start a fight, but here’s Bray on screen to interrupt. He asks what gave Roman the right to go after him on Monday, but Wyatt knew Reigns was there. For a moment, Bray was just like these people. For once, he saw Reigns being exactly what he should have been.
Bray saw him as a stone monument, but at Battleground, he will be the hammer that breaks the monument down. Reigns is ready to fight but Bray says this is what true fear feels like. Collect your roses gladiator because none of them are real. What is real though is that Bray is back here with everyone Reigns cares about. He’s capable of some very evil things and this game has just begun. Wyatt has been trying to bring the fire out of Reigns and knows he’ll get bitten by the big dog. One day though, he’ll tell the dog to sit and the dog will obey. Roman needs to go kiss the people he cares about because anyone but him.
This helped and is probably as clear of a reason as we’re going to get as to why Wyatt has targeted Reigns. I’m still not clear on why his daughter is involved, but maybe the idea is that Reigns isn’t what he seems and Wyatt wants to expose him as a fraud? It all started with Reigns in an ad for being a great father so maybe Bray thinks that’s not the real Reigns?
New Day vs. Lucha Dragons
The champs are on commentary of course with Woods as the odd man out. Kofi flips over Cara to start but Cara does the exact same thing. Off to E. vs. Kalisto, with the latter hitting a nice springboard wristdrag/headscissors to take New Day down and we take an early break.
Back with New Day stomping in the corner and Titus thinking this would be a fun triple threat match on Sunday. Kofi hurricanranas Cara down and Kalisto gets knocked off the apron for not paying attention. The abdominal stretch keeps Cara in trouble but he finally dives over Big E. and makes the hot tag to Kalisto. Everything breaks down and the Salida Del Sol plants Big E., only to have Kofi break up Cara’s swanton. The Midnight Hour ends Kalisto at 10:06.
Rating: C-. Phillips saying that the New Day is on a roll tells you how lame the division has become again in recent weeks. Assuming they win on Sunday, New Day is stuck sitting around waiting on the Usos to come back and then……well then I have no idea where they’re going. I see no reason to believe the Players keep the titles as the lame father of the year award “hype” is over so there’s no reason to have Titus as a champion anymore.
New Day says they’ll win on Sunday and change the chant up to “NEW! TAG CHAMPS!” The Players chase them off without violence. At least they made the match feel a little more important.
Reigns and Ambrose are ready to take care of Sheamus and Big Show because they both want to get rid of Wyatt. Dean says he hates everyone.
King Barrett vs. Jack Swagger
This is how far Barrett has fallen. Swagger rides him to the mat to start but Barrett punches him in the face a few times. The announcers of course treat this match as a joke by talking about Barrett’s nose, because that’s what Barrett is these days. An attempt at the Vader Bomb doesn’t get to launch so Swagger slams him into the apron, only to get kicked in the ribs. The Bullhammer ends Swagger at 2:35.
Post match Truth comes out so they can shout over each other. Barrett says this has gone on long enough (amen) because he’s the real King of the Ring. Truth on the other hand is just another guy who lost in the same tournament, which really isn’t helping me care about this feud. Barrett promises to make Truth bow on Sunday.
Recap of Lesnar vs. Rollins, focusing on various beatdowns of both Lesnar and the car.
Cesaro runs into Kevin Owens, who wishes him luck in his match.
Rusev vs. Cesaro
This should be on pay per view but that’s what Smackdown is for these days. They shove each other around to start with Cesaro getting the better of it, only to have Rusev punch him in the face to take over. Rusev loads up a suplex but Cesaro will have none of that as he reverses into one of his own. I could watch Cesaro throw people around all day.
A snap belly to back suplex drops Cesaro again but he rolls some quick Germans for a breather. Back from a break with Cesaro fighting out of a chinlock and a clip of the slam into the spinout Rock Bottom from Rusev during the commercial. The uppercuts stagger Rusev and a nice dropkick puts him on the floor. There isn’t much to talk about here as this is quite the back and forth power brawl so far.
Back in and the spinwheel kick stops Cesaro cold but he comes right back with a Neutralizer attempt. Rusev backdrops him down though and nails a superkick. The Accolade doesn’t work either though, setting up a USA chant. Jimmy: “I know what’s about to happen King!” They head outside again where Cesaro charges into another superkick. Jimmy: “I didn’t know that was about to happen King!” Rusev goes up top but dives into an “uppercut” (barely connected and looked awkward), setting up the Neutralizer to give Cesaro the pin at 12:40. Cesaro is the second person to ever pin Rusev in WWE.
Rating: B. Now THAT is more like it. This was treated as a big deal and actually felt like one with the commentators pointing out that Rusev has never been pinned on Smackdown (or on TV ever I believe). Cesaro comes off like a big deal, but at the moment he isn’t scheduled to be in action at the pay per view. It’s a shame that another bald power guy who happens to hold a title isn’t injured, leaving a spot open for a title match that Cesaro could say, win on Sunday, leaving him to do this every week on Smackdown like Daniel Bryan was scheduled to do.
Cesaro jumps into the crowd to celebrate.
Sheamus says Sunday is just another day at the office. Tonight he gets to team with a giant and he hopes Orton is watching the beating that Ambrose and Reigns receive. What is WWE’s obsession with Sheamus vs. Orton? They’ve never had anything resembling a good match so they keep getting pushed because they look like a good match on paper? To be fair it wouldn’t be the first time WWE has done something because it sounded good and continued to do so after it failed time after time.
Stardust vs. Neville
Rematch from Raw where Neville lost in what is being billed as a battle of comic book characters, complete with comic page backgrounds on the recap. Stardust drops him with a quick forearm, only to be sent to the floor for the Asai moonsault. Back in and Stardust gets caught holding the ropes on a sunset flip, allowing to pop back up with a victory roll for the pin at 2:20. The good vs. evil concept works and I like Neville being treated as a superhero, but the matches aren’t lighting anything on fire, let alone the world.
After a break, Neville says his strategy was just to wait for his window of opportunity to open and then strike. Stardust decks him and says prepare for turbulence during the Altitude Era.
Long recap of the Divas’ segment from Raw. It still focuses on Stephanie and therefore it’s still not as good as it could be. It’s still great, but it shouldn’t have been about her.
Sasha/Tamina/Naomi say it’s finally fair because the odds are even. Sasha says it’s their time to run this division. Naomi: “We bad.” They’re the trifecta and they’re not here to make friends or play nice.
Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns vs. Big Show/Sheamus
Dean rides Sheamus to the mat to start but Sheamus knees him in the back to take over. That goes nowhere as Dean runs Sheamus over and knocks Show to the floor, setting up the standing elbow drop to both. We come back from a break with Reigns coming in to face off with Big Show because IT WILL NEVER DIE! It’s quickly back to Dean to hammer on Big Show in the corner but Sheamus gets in a shot to take over as we’re firmly in the Smackdown main event formula.
Show punches him in the ribs a few times, which the announcers equate to drowning. The Final Cut gets two and makes me remember that the Final Cut used to be a move. An elbow finally misses and it’s a double tag to Reigns and Sheamus with the former cleaning house as you would expect. Big Show offers a distraction though, allowing Sheamus to get two off White Noise. Dean’s suicide dive is caught by Big Show but the chokeslam through the table is countered into a DDT to put everyone down again. Reigns wins a slugout with Sheamus and hits the Superman Punch but Wyatt comes in for the DQ at 13:52.
Rating: C-. Dull but fine match here as we were just waiting for Bray to run in. I do however like that no one actually jobbed three days before a pay per view because there’s no logical reason to have someone get pinned going into a major match. Also, how nice was it to see someone stay down from a DDT for a change? It was a big spot and they treated it like one for a change. That’s a rare delicacy, as sad as that really is.
Overall Rating: C+. This is the kind of show they needed to shore things up before Battleground. The World Title match has long since been set so tonight was mostly about setting up everything else, but I’m curious to see where they go with the Intercontinental Title situation. You would think Neville vs. Stardust would be added to the pre-show, but I can’t accept the idea of Cesaro not being on the main card. He’s earned a spot doing something there and if he’s left off for something stupid, it’s going to be a shame. The Divas have to get something in there too so Sunday could look very interesting.
New Day b. Lucha Dragons – Midnight Hour to Kalisto
King Barrett b. Jack Swagger – Bullhammer
Cesaro b. Rusev – Neutralizer
Neville b. Stardust – Victor roll
Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose b. Sheamus/Big Show via DQ when Bray Wyatt interfered
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