Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown 1/7/16: MR + USA = Success
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
MR + USA = Success
– The opening video highlighted Roman Reigns successfully defending his Title against Sheamus even with Vince McMahon as Special Guest Referee on the previous Raw, ending with the boss saying Reigns would now compete in and defend his Title in the Royal Rumble match. CURVEBALL.
– WWE comes to the USA Network in 2016 and brings along Mauro Ranallo (esteemed broadcaster from MMA’s Strikeforce and former New Japan Pro-Wrestling commentator) for instant credibility. “MR” woke things up with a bang and possessed enthusiasm that came off organic and made Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler up their games too. Ranallo fits WWE well and has that “it” factor you need for a commentator. He called moves by their names and his stories during the matches also helped set things up.
– The opening segment between John Cena, WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto was perfect booking all-around. You open up the show with Cena, who raves about the new network and transitions it into the belt he used to hold near and dear to his heart, using it as a chance to challenge Del Rio to a Title match. Del Rio didn’t have any goofy League Of Nations affiliations here and was more of the standup heel he was known for in his first WWE run. He did the heelish thing by hyping up the crowd for a potential match before turning it down and offering to face anybody else but Cena, which set up Cena to become “fanboy” and introduced Kalisto, who benefits from the rub with another opportunity to impress.
– The Kalisto-Del Rio match was a fun, back-and-forth bout that balanced Kalisto’s resiliency with Del Rio’s more aggressive style. Cena on the outside was also a benefitting factor. Kalisto showed some high-fire offense here and put together some believable comebacks just when he appeared to be done. You also had the Del Rio-Cena feud continue by having Del Rio taunt Cena several times, which brilliantly played into the finish where Kalisto took advantage of it and pinned Del Rio for the surprise upset and likely an earned Title shot by defeating the current Champion.
– Finally – some character development for Becky Lynch. She’s finally branching out into a talent all on her own, which is how she was pushed in NXT and why she was successful there. Liked all the hype for the Divas Championship match, where Lynch discussed in her backstage promo that Charlotte was no longer her friend and she was determined to do everything possible to win the match and become Champion. Shouldn’t that be everyone’s goal going into a Title match?
– The MizTV segment featuring Miz, The New Day, Dolph Ziggler, Goldust, Neville and R-Truth was obvious comedic filler that turned out to be nothing too relevant. New Day complained about Chris Jericho dismissing them as “rooty tooty booty,” Ziggler hyped his Rumble chances (seeming to forget the winner BECOMES Champion), Goldust did bizarre things, Neville told Miz to shut up and R-Truth did his whole “late for the party” schtick that earned a chuckle with the “entrance fee” line. Low and behold, this was just a way to lead to a Teddy Long classic.
– The Eight-Man Tag between New Day/Miz and Ziggler/Goldust/Neville/R-Truth was your general pleasing mid-card action with overtones of Rumble hype by commentary. You had your usual New Day hijinks mixed with athleticism from guys like Neville and Ziggler. Long story short – the faces won. We became a little excited when we saw Ziggler Superkick one of his partners after the bell, only for it to be dismissed as an “Every man for himself” schtick. Are there more signs of a heel turn down the road? He never really apologized for Superkicking Ambrose on the ramp a while back.
– The “Snobby Champ” gimmick works for Divas Champion Charlotte and having her famous father at her side only helps enhance things. Their backstage promo was good in that they did the “heel thing,” by claiming Lynch was mooching off her being a Champion and it was time for reality to sink in that the Champ was simply better.
– The Divas Championship match between Charlotte and Lynch had the perfect platform to impress and was given ample time to do so. We’d even call this close to some of the magic we used to see in NXT, combining a clear, in-ring story with technical wrestling and athleticism mixed in. Charlotte first dictated a slow pace, while MR put over calling Lynch’s younger career matches to shape her comeback. To a pleasant surprise, Lawler worked a more heelish commentary style, backing up the Flair clan that WWE was where things mattered and Flair was never a nice guy and we should’ve expected him to mold his daughter that way. The finish was logical and made you feel sympathy for Lynch. Basically, Lynch had the Disarmer applied and Flair dragged Charlotte’s foot onto the rope, forcing her to break. Lynch called out Flair and was pinned directly after with Charlotte using the ropes for leverage. It was a quick, cheap victory that continued the feud. It put over the Flair duo as a force. Though we never expected Lynch to actually win, this was still a fun match and we came out of this with only positives.
– Kevin Owens and a microphone are never a bad thing. We got to see more of his brash personality in his backstage interview, as he literally only gave Renee Young a minute of his time. The theme here was that he wasn’t affected by WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose elbow dropping him through the announce table on the previous Raw and compared Ambrose to the many cockroaches he had to squash in his upbringings and would take his Title back no matter what.
– We were pretty shocked that headlines on the WWE website for Jan. 7 included “Nakamura, Bullet Club Headed To WWE?” (pictures of AJ Styles there too) and “Before They Became Famous” (picture of Samoa Joe) as it makes you think. Wonder who they’re catering to.
– Ambrose’s backstage promo served as fair hype for the Title match, saying Owens had put him through tables and hit him with steel, but he was still Champ and challenged “the prize fighter” to “get his prize.” Good stuff.
– The Intercontinental Championship main event between Ambrose and Owens was good while it lasted, ending abruptly with a double countout, but transitioned into a logical, all-out brawl that made the match serve as a “chapter” rather than the “finale.” It was smart and can lead into a Rumble rematch. Liked that it spilled into the ringside production area, while MR shined with one-liners with where they went and how they brawled. Basically, for Smackdown standards, this was a very good effort.
- Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio via pinfall
- Eight-Man Tag – Dolph Ziggler/Goldust/Neville/R-Truth def. The New Day/The Miz via pinfall
- WWE Divas Championship – Charlotte (Champion) (w/Ric Flair) def. Becky Lynch via pinfall to retain
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – Dean Ambrose (Champion) and Kevin Owens to a double countout; Ambrose retains
Posted on January 16, 2016, in WWE and tagged Alberto Del Rio, Becky Lynch, Byron Saxton, Charlotte, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Goldust, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Kalisto, Kevin Owens, Mauro Ranallo, Neville, R-Truth, Renee Young, Ric Flair, Royal Rumble, The Miz, The New Day. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.