This is the third week of SmackDown on the USA Network, airing on Jan. 14 from Lafayette, La. This would be the go-home show for WWE's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, if there were a show other than RAW that mattered. Here's our take on everything that went down on Jan. 21 in Dayton, Ohio. For full results and the live blog, click here.
DAAAAAD, you're embarrassing me!
The world tour of Chris Jericho, Cool Dad extraordinaire, continues. If you're just now tuning in ... well, I sort of envy you. Jericho gets more and more cringe-y with each appearance. At least his openly pining for 1999 on Monday's RAW was a bit of honesty from Fozzy frontman Smugsy the Shirtless Bear.
Luckily, the horribleness was pretty contained on Thursday night, as Jericho played up his entry in the Royal Rumble before being (mercifully) interrupted by The New Day. Jericho once again went to the extremely shallow well of Dad Insults, once again getting the crowd to chant "ROOTY TOOTY BOOTY" at the New Day. All of the appreciation in the world goes to The New Day for actually selling the "Rooty Tooty Booty" thing week after week. No one can say they aren't consummate professionals and don't try to make chicken salad out of Chicken Jericho whenever they're asked.
This opening segment led to The Usos and Dolph Ziggler (in Uso face paint!) getting a win over The New Day in trios action. So ... I guess the tag champs are going to retain on Sunday? The match was fun and I especially liked the Zig-man in face paint, because I will always pop for Tag Team Gear Solidarity.
Kevin Owens, zoo enthusiast
The Miz did his best to welcome Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens to MizTV, but as is becoming ever-increasingly the case, he ended up letting the inmates run the (Ambrose) asylum. Dean cut a pretty good promo comparing their Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble to an amusement park.
This brought out Owens, who made smark history (and made my heart swell with joy) by announcing himself as a zoo enthusiast. Yes, the Art of Wrestling inside joke and longstanding passion of Kevin Steen, perfect human, is now officially WWE canon. Bless this man. Bless all of these men.
Miz attacked Ambrose and invited Owens to the ring to pick apart the remains, but ended up eating a pop-up powerbomb (continuing the theme of The Miz currently existing only as a punching bag and being almost criminally underused, although I'm thankful MizTV continues to provide WWE with some way to use him twice a week). Ambrose and Owens scuffled, allowing Ambrose to hit the Dirty Deeds and count to 10 while Owens was left laying.
Will history repeat itself on Sunday? I don't know, but I'm sure as hell looking forward to the amusement park. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
League of Nations, dumb bullies, get their comeuppance
The most unintentionally hilarious moment of the week was Kalisto cutting a fired-up underdog babyface promo (complete with namedropping the likes of Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero), when the League of Nations appeared and towered over him, surrounding him. They mocked him before taking turns shoving him, then grabbing him and socking him in the gut a bunch of times. It was so spectacularly schoolyard and strangely wonderful.
It sort of summed up the League of Nations to this point, also: a bunch of dumb jerkheads who only teamed up because of where they all come from (a friendship requirement even more arbitrary than, say, shared musical taste) and get a kick out of going up to smaller people and giving them the old WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF treatment. It's basically the purest glimpse yet into WHY the League of Nations are a stable and what their actual motivations are.
Roman Reigns stood up for Kalisto in a way, by going to the ring through the crowd following Kalisto getting beaten up and cutting one of his patented* I AM COOL BUT PRETTY CHILL ABOUT HOW MUCH OF A BADASS I AM promos. Then the "One Versus All" theme continued, as he had a handicap match against ALL of the League of Nations (who, as has been previously mentioned, are dumb bullies). Reigns won by disqualification as the League of Nations succumbed to the dumb bully-ness and ganged up to beat him down.
Post-match, Reigns managed to start fighting off the League of Nations ... when the Wyatts showed up. Bray helped orchestrate the four-man beatdown of Reigns, culminating in a Yokosuka cutter from Braun Strowman and Sister Abigail. Just like on RAW, SmackDown ended with the Wyatts standing tall.
Much has been made of the Wyatts being quickly powered up, just to have their knees cut out from under them, but ... I dunno, you guys. I'm kind of starting to believe that Bray by god Wyatt could win the Royal Rumble.
All the rest:
- Becky Lynch def. Alicia Fox: This got my homie Foxy on television AND gave Becky a strong win heading into the Royal Rumble, so wonderful stuff all around, basically.
- Bray Wyatt def. Ryback: Old enemies Bray and the Big Guy went at it and the match was perfectly fine, serving to keep Bray strong heading into Sunday. The most notable thing in this match was Mauro Ranallo calling Wyatt's finisher "Sister Abby-Gail."
- Titus O'Neil def. Stardust: This is where I came in.
Overall, a fine placeholder show and probably a better go-home show for the Royal Rumble than RAW, but a lot of that is just how much more efficient and appropriate two hours is than three hours. I'm still getting used to Ranallo and Ranallo is still getting used to calling the product. I just wish the "new and improved" SmackDown felt a little more new or improved.
This show was somewhere between a C+ and a B- for me, but since my gimmick is perceived to be the guy who's all sunshine and lollipops, I guess I'm required to air on the side of positivity. Damn it, me.
That's all for this week, Cagesiders. What are your thoughts on the show? Give your opinion in the comment section!