WWE Smackdown Review - January 15th, 2015 - Smackdown returns to Thursday nights!
The show begins with Daniel Bryan being introduced by Byron Saxton, who will also be joining Cole & King on commentary. Nice interview with Bryan about his upcoming with Kane & the Road to WrestleMania before The Authority's music hits and they march down to ringside.
1) Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
Some people rolled their eyes when this match was announced because Bryan is returning to the same feud that he spent the majority of his WWE career in. In a way, I understand that, but the truth is, this was the best match to have for Bryan's first bout back. For storyline purposes, it works perfectly and considering how much these two have worked together, it's a safe choice for Bryan's return encounter. The other reason this was a good choice is that in my opinion, these two always have solid matches together and this one was no different. It ultimately ended in a DQ finish however it went atleast 10 minutes and we got some good action during that time.
Match rating - **3/4
2) The Usos & Naomi vs. The Miz, Damien Mizdow, & Alicia Fox
We don't see intergender matches that often in WWE so this was a special attraction. The males and females never had any physical interaction although it still made for an interesting bout because you could go from two superstars locking up to two Divas going at it. Speaking of the divas, they were the highlight of this match for me. Naomi & Alicia Fox are two of the most underrated women on the roster and they proved so here by delivering the best action of the match. The Usos did their thing and Miz & Mizdow did theirs. Very fun match.
Match rating - **3/4
Seth Rollins confronts Paul Heyman
I'll say it right off the bat - this segment was brilliant. If you didn't see it, it's something worth going out of your way to see. It showcased what makes Paul Heyman so phenomenal and it also put Seth Rollins' mic/character improvement on display. At first, I didn't like how Rollins was almost doing the babyface thing by saying "I'm not scared of Brock Lesnar" because I feel like allowing him, a top heel, to do that is blowing it for whatever young star they want to build up by taking Lesnar head on. However, it seems that WWE isn't going to go that direction anymore which saddens me. I think putting Cesaro in this triple threat and having Rollins be like Heyman's Plan B would have been the best way to go, to be honest. Imagine someone the size of Cesaro coming out and delivering this promo and proclaiming that he doesn't fear the Beast Incarnate. The crowd would get behind them IMMEDIATELY. Here with Rollins, they gave him a mixed reaction which I didn't like. Why have your hottest heel do a babyface act which garners a lukewarm reaction from the audience? That's my only gripe from this segment because everything afterwards was fantastic. Rollins backing Heyman into the corner and threatening to curbstomp him and explaining why was a great visual. The line in which he basically said Lesnar had no brains and was all muscle was my favorite of all. Then again, I went back to my original gripe of "a babyface should be doing this". None the less, Heyman responded with one of his best promos yet. I know it seems weird to say it, but the way he layers things is so amazing. He foreshadowed so many different things at the same time that I couldn't help but to be extremely intrigued coming out of the segment. In fact, I was left shocked because of what he said and it took me awhile to process the whole thing. THAT's how you can tell an awesome promo from an average promo.
3) Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
I was looking forward to this one because of how much Nikki has improved recently. I felt like that paired with Natalya's abilities would make for a great match. And while it wouldn't call this great, it was as enjoyable as I expected. Most divas matches are either exhibitions because they're too short to be anything else, or trainwrecks. This was the latter. Both women put their talent on display and Nattie even showed some improvement. Her style used to get somewhat dull at times however that's no longer the case. It's clear she's been watching some puro with Tyson because she showcased some new, innovative moves here that are rarely seen in WWE. Much less the Divas Division. Some of these include a running stomp to the back of the head while Nikki was sitting upright and sweet spinning lariat that floored Nikki. The end came when Brie distracted Nattie meanwhile Paige slapped Nikki which allowed Natalya to pick up the win. I hope this means we'll get a longer Nikki/Nattie match on PPV or either a triple threat.
Match rating - **1/4
4) Bad News Barrett vs. Sin Cara - Intercontinental Championship Match
I missed the match these two had on Smackdown last week, but from what I've heard it was pretty short. With that being said, I hoped for something with a little more substance to it this go round, especially considering it's a title match. This bout didn't necessarily deliver on the level that I hoped it would however it provided for some great entertainment. There were some remarkable exchangs here, most notably Cara springboarding and getting nailed with the bullhammer elbow in mid-air. That was PERFECTLY executed. Barrett picks up the win and it's clear that Cara was just put in this position to give Barrett a solid title defense.
Match rating - **1/2
5) Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, & Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show, & Kane
This was so awesome. Daniel Bryan's first match earlier in the evening was solid however it was nothing compared to this. 2013 was one of my favorite years in WWE and this brought back flashbacks to that as we got one of those classic Shield style six man tags. Show & his authority brethren dominated the middle portion of the match which was leading towards the explosive closing sequence which saw Reigns spear Big Show over the announce table, Bryan hit all of his signature dives & manuevers, Ambrose dive off the top turnbuckle onto Rollins and J&J security - it was chaos! Matches like this are what WWE needs more of. I didn't come away thinking of positives and negatives about what each man did, I came away thinking, damn, that was so much fun.
Match rating - ***3/4
Overall thoughts: WWE really did go all out with their return to Thursday night here. I enjoyed this just as much or more than I enjoyed Raw on Monday. I'd even venture to say that it was a better overall show because there was no filler. And for that reason, I'd recommend checking out this week's episode if you missed it. If you can't catch the whole thing, the Rollins & Heyman segment and the main event are the must-sees from tonight. However, if you have some time to spare and want to watch a solid TV wrestling show for two hours, I'd say to give this one a watch from start to finish. Good stuff from Smackdown. I hope WWE keeps putting this much effort into their Thursday night showcase.
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