By Anthony Zevoteck
Most of us have learned the hard way that too much partying can be bad.
Those of us familiar with NXT from 2012 to 2014 will fondly remember a deadly superstar named Leo Kruger. Many wins and some excellent feuds led the South African to become one of NXT’s brightest stars and a keen fan favorite.
In May 2014, WWE fans were overcome by a storm of flamboyancy when a repackaged and renamed Adam Rose debuted. The partying prophet racked up mid-card wins aplenty and put together an impressive streak that led people to believe that he was on the brink of breaking through to the scene of midcard championship contenders.
– Is John Cena the only person who gets his name announced when just coming out for a promo? The promo-turned-brawl with him and Rusev was similar to last week, but the added twist was Cena’s more aggressive nature. While it’s necessary and sure, Cena should seek to overcome an undefeated beast and the “fight to respect” angle is okay, but what about the United States Championship on the line here? Is that at all important? It’s definitely not the focus of this feud and that’s doing a disservice to the Belt and what Rusev has done with it.
– The bit with Dean Ambrose doing a news segment taking a shot against Bad News Barrett came across random, but this feud could be taken so much more seriously, considering it’s for the Intercontinental Championship.
– The Ambrose-Luke Harper match was treated like an evenly matched bout that had Ambrose fight to get his victory, but him on top was predictable with his obsession with getting Barrett to sign a contract before Sunday. Why would he lose here?
– The backstage segment with Big Show, Kane and Triple H put over Kane and Show’s arguments. Show Face turn #457 imminent?
– The latest Bray Wyatt cryptic promo had him explain how his fear turned into pity. Or something like that. Would Undertaker just acknowledge this already?
– The backstage segment with The Rhodes family was okay as Dusty Rhodes motivated them to stand together. A turn was so coming here. You could just smell it.
– The Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (w/Big E)-Gold & Stardust match had most focus on Gold & Stardust trying to work together with constant cuts to Dusty Rhodes watching backstage. This paid off with New Day getting the win and Stardust inevitably hitting his finisher on Goldust – full turn? Maybe not, but leading to a match where it will be more set in stone.
– The backstage interview with Roman Reigns was interesting in his approach of the term “public opinion.” His mic work is far better with this more “tweener” character.
– It was good to have Daniel Bryan out to scout the Reigns-Kane match from ringside on commentary as he talked about being surprised by Reign’s comments. Him playing innocent was entertaining, but the Yes! laps seemed a bit forced.
– The Stardust-Dusty Rhodes interaction put over Stardust’s animosity towards his family. Plain and simple.
– The Reigns-Kane match was okay, though more distracted by Bryan’s commentary as solid as it was. Reigns winning by countout was kind of weak.
– The backstage interview with Bryan was more of what he said on commentary. Public opinion.
– The second Wyatt promo was too brief to make anything of.
– The backstage segment with Paige and The Bellas and Rosebuds was a big bowl of WTF soup. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Paige getting her gear stolen or relief for her probably coming out as a fairy for her match later? Plus, you’re telling us she only has one ring attire outfit? Gosh – get some backups, girl!
– The Summer Rae-Paige match told the story of Paige “bouncing back” though it probably accomplished the creation of Internet memes more than anything. Paige won again by tap out. The Bella Twins coming out and exchange between Nikki and Paige was decent hype towards their FastLane match, but why can’t we just focus on athleticism rather than outfits and spray tan?
– The Seth Rollins in-ring promo was par for the course of his usual promos, not bad though. Ziggler’s interruption was good but you had to cringe at the slight sexual references considering the last week Rollins really had. You’d think WWE would want to avoid that road entirely. The match was pretty good but stopped before it could get going, as J & J Security interfered as Ziggler was about to get a three count. The save with Rowan and Ryback getting payback was okay, but keeping these three guys together so long is doing more harm than hurt.
– The announcement for MizTV featuring Paul Heyman on the FastLane pre-show should be interesting to say the least.
– The segment with Triple H addressing Sting was going the usual way until the random surprise appearance by Ric Flair. This was all good as Flair tried to praise Sting up and Triple H gained heat by claiming he was the WWE and pushed Flair to the ground in a rage. Best hype on the show.
– From the looks of The Ascension-Darren Young/Unnamed match that never took place, it was to make The Ascension look good and set up the moment of Titus O’Neil saving his old partner. A PTP reunion to feud with The Ascension sounds interesting. It would also be good to see them back together as they work best together.
– The backstage segment with The Miz and Barrett set things up for the match later. We can believe Miz “has people,” but Barrett? What does he do that’s so big?
– The Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz)-Barrett match carried on the storyline of Miz purposely costing Mizdow the match and just being a Hollywood douche. The spot with Ambrose tying Barrett’s hands to the post to get him to sign the contract was a bit corny, albeit decent way to have Ambrose outsmart Barrett, though Barrett could argue he never consented. JBL asking for Jack Tunney was hilarious.
– The third Wyatt promo was more of the same as he took a hammer to something unseen.
– The Jimmy Uso/Naomi (w/Jey Uso)-Tyson Kidd/Natalya (w/Cesaro) mixed tag was short, but furthered tension between Kidd and Natalya. Natalya and Naomi also worked pretty well together.
– Reigns being ringside for the Bryan-Show match eventually signing autographs and throwing shirts into the crowd was his way of payback. Why Bryan would be enraged at that is beyond us. The front row fans got their money’s worth with that at least. Once Reigns got speared by Show, you had to know Reigns would get revenge and likely cost Bryan the match. The post match Reigns-Bryan brawl was well-done as it just kept going and going. Where was this when we needed it before? Was this too much too late?
– Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper via pinfall
– Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (w/Big E) def. Gold & Stardust via pinfall
– Roman Reigns def. Kane via countout
– Paige def. Summer Rae via submission
– Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security) via DQ
– Bad News Barrett def. Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz) via pinfall
– Mixed Tag – Jimmy Uso/Naomi def. Tyson Kidd/Natalya (w/Cesaro) via pinfall
– The Big Show def. Daniel Bryan via DQ
– The opening video was basically the same that played at the beginning of Main Event, with Cena bringing back The Authority and Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback getting fired another 47 times. Seeing it live was enough.
– The opening segment with Seth Rollins and Joey Mercury/Jamie Noble (J & J Security), Kane, The Big Show and Roman Reigns did its job in terms of setting up the main event and allowed Rollins to take the spotlight as he gloated about the end of Raw – probably the only person to do so – and took credit for manipulating Cena to bring back The Authority. The crowd edits were a bit obvious. Since when does the name “Erick Rowan” incite an upbeat reaction? Rollins asking for a 10-bell salute to the three fired men got good heat, which cued Reigns. Their exchange was decent – but Reigns went for laughs, which didn’t work – despite the subtle wink that acknowledged the lameness of the promo. What did work, was his assault on Rollins. He is most effective when his words are minimal.
– The backstage segment with Kane and The Miz/Damien Mizdow where Miz proposed a match with just them against The Usos which messed up when Mizdow accidentally spilled water on Kane, created more tension between Mr. Hollywood and his stunt double. Face turn imminent.
– The Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds, Cesaro/Tyson Kidd)-Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) match was lackluster mid card action. The New Day act sucks and still gets no reaction. Big E won with the Big Ending.
– The Ascension promo was more crapping on past tag teams, namely ones they take after. This was the exact same promo from Raw. Again. No need to drill it in our brains, guys. The subsequent squash match was more of the same as we’ve seen before. Announcers continue to also discredit The Ascension, which only keeps them looked at as posers, despite being undefeated against four squash tag teams.
– The backstage promo with The Usos focused on the end of Raw and showing they were determined with the odds against them. Decent stuff.
– The Alicia Fox-Naomi match carried on their feud. Naomi cut a decent promo on Fox in the little box on the corner. Fox won using the ropes after a sloppy finishing sequence.
– The highlights shown of Triple H talking about the firings mentioned Sting and the “heroes” and made it sound like Cena turned on them. Usual stuff at this point.
– Good for them to show highlights from the ambulance match. The subsequent promo with Bray Wyatt talking like he got the better of Ambrose and “a new journey” and mentioned the Royal Rumble. So, what happens for him between now and then?
– The Tag Team Championship triple threat match with The Usos (Champs)-Stardust/Goldust-The Miz/Damien Mizdow was good for TV. The action picked up a bit once things left the ring. Stardust/Goldust looked good here particularly. The Usos retained as Goldust took the pin after the Splash.
– The Bad News Barrett promo was good for heat as he called out Ziggler for a rematch knowing he was “fired” and announced his Royal Rumble entry. His following match with Sin Cara screamed, “glorified squash material” and that’s what it seemed would happen, but Sin Cara actually pinned Barrett clean. Way to give Barrett momentum, besides the post match beatdown.
– More replays of the reactions from Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback being fired.
– The Seth Rollins/Big Show-Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose match provided a memorable moment in the image of seeing all of the former Shield members in a match once again. Ambrose was actually the perfect guy for the spot and his popularity could “rub off” on Reigns a bit more. Also to its credit, the match could have gone either way. Things got good down the stretch and Reigns scored the pin over Rollins after a spear after Ambrose took out the rest of the Authority. Clearly, this will be addressed on Raw.
– Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) def. Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds, Tyson Kidd/Cesaro) via pinfall
– The Ascension def. Two Local Jobbers via pinfall
– Alicia Fox def. Naomi via pinfall
– Tag Team Championships – The Usos (Champions) def. Goldust/Stardust and The Miz/Damien Mizdow via pinfall to retain
– Sin Cara def. Bad News Barrett via pinfall
– Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose def. The Big Show/Seth Rollins (w/Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, Kane) via pinfall
This episode was all about The Authority getting revenge… again.
New Era, Same Agenda (And An Ambulance)
– To no surprise, the opening video showed how The Authority came back in power, because John Cena practically waited a long time to come to the ring and Edge was in bad shape. Woo hoo.
– Lots of Roman Reigns in the montage theme. That says a lot.
– Adam Rose actually ate a lollipop during the opening segment. Looked like he was enjoying it too.
– The opening segment was enough to draw people in with the entire roster already in the ring. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are great heels though, like evil parents/bosses. You had to know it would revolve around “how the new year should kick off.” It was right to business at least. Seth Rollins also came off well here, with everything seemingly falling in his lap, like now being included in the World Championship match with Cena and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. One has to wonder though if he brought back The Authority so he could use them to get more opportunities. Stephanie is so condescending, it’s great. “John Cena Appreciation Night”? The line about “A New Era with no agendas” should also have been a red flag.
– Unfortunately, Booker T never said, “Shucky Ducky Quack Quack!”
– The Intercontinental Championship (made into a two-out-of-three falls) match between Bad News Barrett and Dolph Ziggler “made by The Authority” had its moments. It was smart of the broadcast team to show that Ziggler was a fighting Champion like past IC titleholders and Barrett was eager to get back the belt he never lost. The first fall with Ziggler winning ended before anything tangible developed, which then saw Barrett get heat with the beatdown. Corporate Kane coming down and making it a two-out-of-three falls match told us The Authority wanted Barrett Champion and we assumed that Ziggler would give up the second fall and fight to get the final one. Almost right. This did make the last fall more interesting, but Kane played into the finish when Ziggler Superkicked him off the apron and Barrett hit the Bull Hammer Elbow to regain the IC Title. Back to basics again…
– The Authority highlighting Cena’s career highlights throughout the night was a nice touch.
– The Roman Reigns promo, like others, just lacked that “It Factor.” He tries to be charismatic and it just doesn’t work. He was always good when he just said “Believe In The Shield.”
– The Bray Wyatt promo wasn’t anything new. Devils were beside him, blah blah blah.
– Time for The Ascension, generic as ever. Here we go again with the comparisons to Demolition and Road Warriors. They did claim to be better than them, so they are heels. Maybe they are generic on purpose? If so, then it makes sense. Easy squash match didn’t show much though and even the announcers picked on them. Their finisher also looks too similar to Total Elimination.
– Rusev and Lana delivered another Anti-American promo… Maybe they could get a different photo of Vladimir Putin sometime? The promo didn’t say much else.
– How could you not laugh at the “Purple Reigns” sign?
– The Reigns-Big Show match was hyped well, but its delivery? It was okay. Show targeted Reign’s mid-section and Reigns showed some fight, though it tried to be like Hogan vs Andre, but not quite there. Reigns did get a negative reaction from the crowd, which is telling. The pointless DQ with Show hitting Reigns with the steel steps did little, though the spear with the steel steps was a cool spot, though it seems that Reigns is the “New Batista” this year; the good guy who fans won’t buy into.
– The Nikki Bella-Natalya match served more of the Diva drama… Paige (emo girl?) joined the mix. Natalya picked up the win thanks to a Paige distraction, pinning the Divas Champion.
– The Dean Ambrose promo was straight-forward and badass. Very believable. He always brings something new to the table with a promo.
– Maybe Erick Rowan would be more over if he kept the sheep mask on? And the match between him and Luke Harper was once again another match between former Wyatt Family members with no prior hype. Why? Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury- J & J Security were two special guest referees, for some reason. That was just awkward. Their purpose was to help Harper, fast counting for him. It turned into a three-on-one beat down on Rowan. Shocker.
– The Naomi-Alicia Fox segment just showed that Fox wanted to hurt Naomi. Most Diva conflicts stem from Total Divas, don’t they?
– The Ambrose-Wyatt ambulance match was kickstarted by a great hype video, and started off strong as the two went all over the place and were truly out to hurt each other. To that point, this was the highlight of the show. Both men looked strong, but it’s safe to bet nobody expected for Wyatt to come out on top. Ambrose can bounce back, but Wyatt probably needed it more. What’s next for both men?
– MizTV with Seth Rollins on Smackdown this week sounds intriguing.
– The Usos/Naomi-The Miz/Damien Sandow/Alicia Fox match was good in a short dose. Mizdow was much over. He manages to make this gimmick work somehow and you can see the eventual tension growing between him and Miz. Miz grabbed the tights to secure the victory.
– The Ryback-Seth Rollins match which became the Ryback-Seth Rollins/Kane handicap match was okay at best. Ryback had a few moments to shine but the theme of the night was that you can’t overcome the Authority, albeit taking two Curb Stomps to pin Ryback.
– The Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds)-Big E (w/Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods) match was throwaway until the two masked Rosebuds members attacked The New Day and unveiled themselves as Tyson Kidd/Cesaro. That was cool. You had to crack up at Kidd/Cesaro dancing with the Rosebuds.
– The “Cena Appreciation” segment was entertaining and pretty much had The Authority send down to the ring the people who were “screwed” earlier: Rowan, Ryback and Ziggler, probably also unhappy with Cena. This was Trips and Steph abusing their power, firing Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback, blaming Cena. The music and confetti was a nice sarcastic touch… Steph dancing too. You have to assume we haven’t seen the last of those three men and that Cena will propose some match in the future where he fights for their reinstatement.
– Intercontinental Championship Match – Two Out Of Three Falls – Wade Barrett def. Dolph Ziggler to regain Title
– The Ascension def. Two Local Jobbers via pinfall
– Roman Reigns def. The Big Show via DQ
– Natalya def. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) via pinfall
– Luke Harper def. Erick Rowan via pinfall
– Ambulance Match – Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose
– The Miz/Damien Mizdow/Alicia Fox def. The Usos/Naomi via pinfall
– Seth Rollins/Kane def. Ryback via pinfall
– Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) def. Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds) via DQ
Boy, That Really Turned The Tables…
Welcome to the first “Notes in Observance,” which will feature random thoughts and analysis of recent television shows. You can find quick results of the show at the top of the post.
– Bray Wyatt def. Erick Rowan via pinfall.
– R-Truth/The Usos def. Adam Rose/Goldust/Stardust (w/Rosebuds) via pinfall
– Big Show def. Ryback via countout
– Tyson Kidd/Antonio Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) via pinfall
– Dean Ambrose and Curtis Axel to a no-contest
– The Ascension def. Two Local Jobbers via pinfall
– Non-Title – Roman Reigns def. Rusev (w/Lana) via DQ
– It almost felt natural to see Edge on Smackdown television. It was good to see him back on the show he once made “must-see television.” That said, the first segment pretty much just reminded everyone that The Authority was in power and that Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble, or J & J Security, were pushovers who would tattletale on what Edge and Christian did on the show to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Couldn’t Trips & Steph have just watched the show themselves like everyone else? Oy.
– Watching Bray Wyatt’s entrance was just a weird reminder of how stale his character is. The Wyatt we see now is the exact same as the one in 2013, just minus the family; a hillbilly hypnotizer who cuts strange promos. He was better as a stable leader. On his own, his character struggles. However, his feud with Dean Ambrose has been enjoyable, but it’s definitely Ambrose who is the star of it.
– The Bray Wyatt-Erick Rowan match was what it was, despite no hype, although fans won’t take to Rowan if he isn’t a “full rebel.” The finish pretty much showed that Rowan was open to accepting Wyatt again, just to fall victim to Sister Abigail again.
– Ryback and The Big Show just didn’t sound like a good match to begin with.
– Edge sporting an Antonio Cesaro shirt was interesting in itself. Don’t forget he wore a Sami Zayn shirt on Raw. It was obvious WWE sees Edge as a big name and while he hasn’t verbally endorsed Cesaro or Zayn, him wearing their shirts does say a lot.
– If only R-Truth could be a heel just one more time. If only.
– The big focus of the six-man tag between Adam Rose/Stardust/Goldust and R-Truth/The Usos was essentially that Rose doesn’t like The Bunny, R-Truth is a pandering follower, The Usos remain an exciting team and The Dusty Brothers do their own thing. Nothing special to it.
– Obviously, they had to show highlights of Daniel Bryan’s promo from Raw, but it might had been more effective to just play the whole thing in its entirety. Playing parts of Ryback’s “I’m human after all!” promo from Raw worked for Ryback because he was on the show about to wrestle, but Bryan didn’t appear on this show. Why not reap the full benefits of that epic promo?
– The Ryback-Big Show match ended up decent since there was a story being told of Show targeting the leg and that let the broadcast team remind everyone of just what adversities Ryback has overcome. The ending seemed lame in retrospect, but allowed Show to win, Ryback to look tough and let the Ryback-Rusev feud progress.
– It should be pretty easy for Tyson Kidd/Antonio Cesaro to rise through the tag team ranks. They also have a solid valet in Natalya. Pretty much the new “cool heels” and that entails no complaints. Los Matadores are jokes compared to them, which made the purpose of their match seemingly to showcase Kidd/Cesaro. Their finisher is sick and even their theme is badass. Not sure if they will surpass The Usos at this point, but that should at least provide an exciting feud for a few months.
– The Dean Ambrose-Curtis Axel match was made to make Ambrose look tough and Axel is someone just legitimate enough where it’s not a complete squash. Actually, it was more of a squash/promo. There was something “HBK”-esque about his “Happy New Year Hell” promo. They’ve been selling this match hard. Good for them.
– Time for Road Warriors 2015… Er, The Ascension. Their music and look would be cool if past teams didn’t own it before. Obvious squash match aside, it’s good to see that WWE has a big playlist of tag team players on the roster that can only get bigger and better with time. The key is to build everyone as much as possible and put them all against each other.
– It would have been cool to actually see a “greatest moments in Smackdown history” two-hour version of the show from SyFy, what with their “Throwback Thursday” social media campaign. Just throwing that out there.
– Uh-oh… E & C defaced the Trips & Steph fitness magazine cover… This probably won’t have repercussions later on in the future…
– Yeah, Roman Reigns was really going to decisively beat Rusev on the first WWE show of 2015. The match did show that Reigns is capable of being great when he turns the offense up a notch, but this was done mainly to put over Big Show as a threat, before turning the momentum back to Reigns. That would also be the second time a Smackdown episode has ended with the announce table flipped on top of Big Show. He should just stay out of that area…