This week's episode of SmackDown comes from San Diego, California on the USA Network, airing on March 14, 2016. The WWE is building up to the Payback pay-per-view (PPV). For full results and the live blog, click here.
Ryder's Rough Night
SmackDown opened with Maryse introducing the Intercontinental Champion, the Miz, who was set to host another thrilling edition of Miz TV. The Champion's guest of honor was his wonderful wife, Maryse. The Hollywood couple traded compliments with each other back and forth, with Maryse telling the Miz that he would become People's Sexiest Man Alive this year. The verbal lovefest turned physical as the two embraced and shared a kiss. This brought out the former champion, Zack Ryder. Ryder and Maryse had words at first, with Maryse telling Ryder that he was upset that Miz ruined his WrestleMania moment.
Ryder stated that winning the Intercontinental Championship in front of 100,000 people is something Miz and Maryse can never take from him and, while he still has plans to win the title again, he looks forward to Cesaro taking on the Champion. Ryder attempted to get Miz to put his title on the line in the match. Unfortunately, Ryder was already scheduled to take on Baron Corbin.
The first portion of Corbin versus Ryder was pretty much Zack Ryder attempting and failing to stop the onslaught of the Lone Wolf. Ryder did some moves in but it was futile. Corbin won easily with the End of Days (?). As Corbin went to destroy Ryder outside of the ring, Dolph Ziggler ran out to save his old buddy. Corbin decided to back off and not fight Ziggler . . . this time. He left the scene as Ziggler checked on Ryder.
Realest Tournament in the Room
The Tag Team Tournament to determine a number one contender to the WWE Tag Team Champions, sponsored by Booty-O's, continued on the show. The Realest Guys in the Room, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, took on the Ascension in the first tournament match of the night. The duo came out and Enzo did the usual introduction. He also said that the worst thing he could say about the Ascension were that . . . well, they're the Ascension. Big Cass proclaimed that he and Enzo are the next Tag Team Champions and that their opponents were indeed S . . . A . . . . W . . . F . . . T- SAAAAAAAWFT! How you doing?
This was essentially a showcase match for Enzo and Big Cass. Yes, the Ascension got the upper hand on Enzo after the initial babyface rally but I do not think there was much doubt who would advance to the next round. Enzo is at his very best in the ring selling as the face in peril, desperately trying to get Big Cass in, who wants to rip his opponents' heads off by the time he is in the ring. Of course, this was what happened, because this is how the best Smaller Guy/Bigger Guy teams operate. Enzo and Big Cass disposed of the Ascension and advanced to the next round to face the Dudleys, who the two have exchanged not so nice words with these last two weeks.
The next tournament match was the Vaudevillians versus Goldust and Fandango. The reaction to the Vaudevillians seemed to be the exact opposite to Enzo and Big Cass. The crowd was pretty much not engaged in their entrance whatsoever. Goldust and Fandango got better reactions. There really seems to be nothing that stands out about Aiden English at all. Simon Gotch could be a great character but this team has only gotten matches (zero time to talk or get their gimmick across) on the main roster. Not bad matches; just nothing particularly interesting. They beat Goldango with ease. They meet the Usos next in the tournament.
The Fantastic Four
The main event was Sami Zayn versus Chris Jericho. This is the first match between these two in WWE. The two started off with lock ups and felt each other out. Zayn took charge initially and Jericho took a powder, frustrated. As Jericho behaved like a child on the ring apron, Kevin Owens appeared. Then immediately after he came out, Dean Ambrose came out as well, passing out flyers for his new Ambrose Asylum show. After things settled down, both Ambrose and Owens were on commentary for the match.
Jericho gained the advantage over Zayn, and gloated about it as much as possible. He was also distracted by Dean's presence at the announcer's table. Owens enjoyed every minute of Zayn's punishment. KO and Ambrose actually got more time to go back and forth on a microphone in this one segment than the entire time the two feuded over the Intercontinental Championship. I need more KO/Ambrose banter in my life. Imagine those two in a long car ride anywhere together.
Zayn gained some momentum in the match but Jericho grounded him with a stiff backbreaker. Taking time to yell at Ambrose cost Jericho and Zayn took over again, gaining a near fall. He fought through a Walls of Jericho attempt but Jericho caught him with a running bulldog. Jericho finally got the Walls of Jericho locked in and Zayn fought to get to the ropes, breaking the hold.
The action spilled outside and Jericho ran into Ambrose, attacking him. Zayn sent Jericho into KO. Jericho and Zayn got back into the ring with both guest commentators wiped out. Zayn was close to hitting a Helluva Kick to Jericho went KO attacked Zayn, causing the match to end in a disqualification. Jericho and KO looked to beat up Zayn but Ambrose ran in to make the save. The show ended with Zayn and Ambrose standing tall in the ring.
- Kevin Owens backstage interview: KO seems to get angrier and angrier as the days go by that he and Sami are still on the main roster together. He pretty much said he was going to attack Sami during the main event. KO is not going to stop until one or both of them are hurt/out of the WWE. it seems.
- Paige versus Emma: Emma nailed her change in character and her reasons for going after Becky in her pre-match interview. She was so cold and mean in her delivery. Very direct. Evil Emma has no time for games. She also had no time for Paige, who she viciously beat down during this match. Paige put up a good fight but a mistake during a top rope move cost her and Emma picked up the win with a smart jackknife cover.
- AJ Styles backstage interview: As the number one contender for the WWE WHC spoke about getting his opportunity, he was interrupted by Del Rio. The two exchanged words and a match was set between the two.
- AJ Styles versus Alberto Del Rio: This was a first match between the two former World Champions. Styles took Del Rio out of his comfort zone and had control of the match in the earl going. But Del Rio did get the momentum on his side and showed his vicious streak. Styles giving a great to superb match on this show is pretty much a given at this point and this was no exception. Styles and Del Rio have crazy in-ring chemistry. Styles won with a roll up after he rolled out of Del Rio's armbar attempt. Great stuff.
- Golden Truth segment: Now Fandango has been added to this story and I'm all of sudden interested again. This is just wackiness to the next level. Who's up for Goldango Truth?
- Chris Jericho backstage interview: Jericho called Ambrose an amateur, said he is the greatest of all time, asked Jo Jo does she know who he is, and called San Diego a dump. Also, he is Haley's Comet. A talent like his only comes around once in a lifetime while talent like Sami Zayn comes around once a week. I am loving Angry Dad Jericho.
- Come to Puerto Rico: . . . Maybe Primo and Epico (are those still their names?) are legit tour guides for their native country and bought time on WWE TV.
For a show that saw half the roster overseas in Europe, it did not feel like it and that is odd for SmackDown. The Tag Team Tournament is down to four teams and it should be clear who New Day will face in about a week. Evil Emma got a win to strengthen her case against good guys like Becky Lynch. The main event angle where history and continuity has a major role is just the best, isn't it? We can actually understand the character motivations of Jericho, Zayn, KO, and Ambrose. Also, the number one contender for the WWE WHC continues to prove that SmackDown is his show this year, even when he doesn't main event. The two big matches on the show were fresh match ups that fans had never seen before. This show definitely illustrates that WWE has a stacked roster, especially with the recent NXT call ups. Really good show again this week.
Rating: 9 out of 10
That is all for this week, Cagesiders! What did you think of the show? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Because when you comment on Cageside Seats, you comment on Cageside Seats . . . for . . . life!