It’s Thursday, which means it’s Mauro Ranallo mark out day… er, WWE SmackDown day. Yeah. Anyway, we’re supposed to have a Chris Jericho “Highlight Reel” segment with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose tonight. This is just after they had the bomb dropped on them as Raw went off the air that they’re involved in a triple threat match with Brock Lesnar at Fastlane to see who takes on HHH for the title. So, let’s waste no time – Mauro actually calling what is happening in the ring awaits – it is the WWE SmackDown 01/28/16 recap!
WWE SmackDown 01/28/16 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Overly dramatic video package to remind us what happened at the Rumble in respect to “that old guy Triple H” winning the title and Roman learning he has a triple threat against his best bud and the best beast (incarnate). And, then the standard SmackDown video open. The “in the video open but injured” roll call this week: Sheamus (arm injury, out indefinitely?), Sin Cara (shoulder), and hey… that’s it. Thanks to Paige and Sasha Banks returning to action on Raw, that’s not too bad.
We’re live (to tape) from Tampa, and I’ll never tire of hearing Mauro Ranallo set the stage for us. Tonight we have the Jericho Highlight Reel segment with Reigns and Ambrose, and Kalisto defends the U.S. Title against Neville.
New Day are out and I’m sure we’ll get to relive the fever dream that was the Rock’s segment from Raw. Mauro throws shade on Saxton (aka – “the other black guy” if you’re Dwayne Johnson) and the King throws us to video to show us the tail end of one of the most bizarre segments on WWE TV in the while, The Rock finally coming back to Raw. The New Day are not pleased with the Rock and say he should be ashamed of himself. Kinda agree, kinda don’t. The Rock “sullied” their good name by referring to their horns as llama penises (penii?). Before they can get much further, The Miz finally gets some karmic payback and interrupts the New Day.
The Miz feels their pain because he was insulted by the Rock too. The Miz puts himself over to no reaction and then gets cut off by the Usos. The Usos say “woah” a lot and get the crowd to kind of chant it. A little. They mock the Miz for being mad. They call Miz’s outfit a “dress” and Woods says Miz has “the best mouth in the business” which… just yeah. New Day says the Usos have a gold allergy and that their cousin isn’t here this week to save them. They say that’s fine because they have “more Usos” to shut the New Day and the Miz up. This brings out Titus O’Neil, who I’m calling Dory Uso tonight. But that’s not all, here comes Dolph Ziggler, who I’m going to call Jimmy Jack Uso tonight. A brawl breaks out and I’ve got five on “we come back from break into an eight man tag already in progress”.
Back from break, Mauro tells about Titus O’Neil visiting some honor roll students in Tampa earlier in the day. Hey, what do you know? An eight-man tag match is just starting!
Match #1: The New Day & The Miz vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Dory Uso, & Jimmy Jack Uso)
Remember how they like to do eight man matches with the New Day? Yeah, this is one of those. Nothing terribly unique and the whole thing felt like a plot device to get Titus O’Neil on TV, have him get in all of his offense, and then get the pinfall. I noticed several “Rooty Tooty Booty” signs in the crowd during this match. Sigh. You’re not helping, Tampa. Also of note is Lawler trying to bring up the awkward part of the insane Rock segment where he implied he banged Lana. Mauro’s response when King asked him to discuss that? “I’d rather not.” Never change, Mauro, never change. Anyway, not much to report here. Titus goes over clean in front of the kids he hung out with earlier in the day. Everyone goes home happy.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Super predictable match and outcome. Nothing too spectacular either. I’m also really sick of all of the eight man tag matches these days. I’m sure by Survivor Series 2016 they’ll have found a way to have zero four man factions again because that’s the way WWE rolls lately.
Post-match, Titus goes out into the crowd and dances with the honor roll students he saw earlier that day. Titus O’Neil is seriously giving John Cena a run for the “most awesome dude in real life” award in the WWE.
Match #2: Kalisto (c) vs. Neville (WWE United States Championship match)
Lawler is kind of on fire tonight. He keeps calling Byron Saxton “B.S.” and then says Byron is the “man that the Rock forgot”. It’s like Mauro being here is making him actually try again. This was a really entertaining match. Considering the competitors, it was a spot fest as you’d imagine it being. Mauro refers to it being like a classic matchup between The Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask and my weekly “where has this guy been all this time?” moment happens. Kalisto picks up the win here, but in odd fashion. Neville keeps trying to dead lift him to… I guess… suplex him and Kalisto finally counters one into what Mauro calls a “modified Salida del Sol” but just sorta looks like he falls onto Neville. Not sure if that was planned or a blown spot but it looked weird and Kalisto got the pinfall off of it. If it was blown, Mauro did a great job covering for it.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – An entertaining match as one would expect when Neville and Kalisto are involved. It was nice to see the United States Championship get defended on something other than a PPV.
Now it’s time for the Chris Jericho Highlight Reel. Jericho gets his full entrance for this segment again, complete with light up jacket. Jericho reminds us of everything that has been going on lately. He then announces Ambrose who comes out to a nice pop and a bouquet of orchids. Because why not? Jericho then announces Reigns who also gets a nice pop. R0man looks confused as to why Dean is holding flowers. Dean tells Jericho he brought the flowers to “jazz up” Jericho’s Highlight Reel set. It’s worth mentioning the “set” is just the flat screen TV that just has the segment’s logo displayed the entire time. Roman suddenly appears with a wooden stool and says, “I brought you this”. LOL. Jericho asks them if the chance to headline Mania is going to cause problems. Roman says, “Nah, we’re not jealous people” – which makes sense, they don’t work in the Diva’s division! Dean says that friends fight over all sorts of stuff, but they don’t have time to fight over that kind of thing. Dean and Roman then joke about their strategies for facing each other at Fastlane. Jericho then mentions Brock Lesnar and how Dean has never been in the ring with him. Dean no sells it and says Brock will probably beat him into a pulp, but he’s the “iron man” of the WWE. Roman tells Dean “it’s different” with Brock and puts Brock over. Dean says he doesn’t technically have to beat Brock he only needs to beat Roman. Reigns then says that’d be the first time.
Wyatt video stinger breaks up the pregnant pause and the Family appears. Bray says they made a promise to bring forth the apocalypse and at Rumble they slayed the beast. Roman wants to go with Bray right now, but Bray would rather have a six-man main event match. NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS 2015 REMATCH!!!
AJ Styles’s SmackDown debut is next!
Back from break, the Social Outcasts are in the ring. Sadly, Bo Dallas is not dressed up as Bo Rider. The Outcasts are bummed that AJ Styles is trending on Twitter instead of them. Seems like a reason to have a match. They try to group hug Curtis Axel because he didn’t win the Royal Rumble. Axel is having none of it. I love this faction. Bo Dallas is the nerdy, wise one. Heath Slater is the cocky one. Adam Rose is the weird one. And Curtis Axel is the angry one.
Match #3: AJ Styles vs. Curtis Axel (w/ Bo Dallas, Heath Slater, & Adam Rose)
Not bad for a glorified squash match. After the competitive match with Jericho on Monday, I figured they’d give Styles a squash win tonight and they did. Axel still looked good in defeat so that helped make this better than it could have been. Styles manages to counter the “numbers game” and hits his first WWE Styles Clash to get the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Nice to see Axel get some work and so far, so good with the booking of AJ Styles in the WWE. Can’t complain.
Meanwhile, backstage Ric Flair and Charlotte are walking.
Back from break, we see stills and hear commentary from the Diva’s title match at Royal Rumble.
Match #4: Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Natalya
I suppose this match is here to establish that Natalya is back. She looked better than she’s looked in a while, but the ending of the match left a lot to be desired. Natty is in control and then leaves the ring to go after Charlotte. Ric Flair then just starts yelling “Woo” in her face and it’s like he’s Medusa or something and she just freezes and he keeps yelling “Woo” at her. She finally gets back in the ring, only to be chop blocked by Charlotte, who then immediately puts Natalya in the Figure Eight. Natty hangs on for a while and then taps.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Really accomplished zero beyond throwing Natalya out there and having her work a singles match. Hey, maybe that’s all they intended to accomplish here, she is fresh off an injury after all.
Post-match, Charlotte puts Natalya in the Figure Four and this brings out Becky Lynch to break things up. Instead of just relying on “Becky hates Charlotte”, Mauro points out that Becky and Natalya go back a decade from working together in Canada. See how just a small phrase makes things seem like they have more gravity?
Back from break, we see stills and hear about Nikki Bella’s recent neck surgery.
Earlier today, R Truth is getting ready to run. Goldust appears. Hilarity and misunderstandings ensue.
Match #5: Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, & Luke Harper (w/ Braun Strowman)
So, this match just kind of exists. It’s kind of a cop-out to stack some faces against the Wyatts and make it a six man main event. I get why they did this though. Both the Wyatts and Roman / Dean require Brock Lesnar for anything to move their story lines along. Brock isn’t here, so may as well throw Jericho into the mix and have a match. One thing of note here is just how good Jericho has been since he came back. He seems to really be on fire lately and he looks good again in this match after having a great match with AJ Styles on Raw. I didn’t think we’d get the clean Roman Reigns win they teased and we didn’t. Strowman, who stood stoically by the announce table the entire match, breaks up a pinfall by pulling Roman out of the ring and the ref throws the match out.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – This match does absolutely nothing to further the Fastlane triple threat match story and nothing to further whatever the Wyatts are up to, presumably Brock Lesnar. But, it’s SmackDown and the main events rarely have much bearing on story lines and this wasn’t a stinker so “middle” it is.
Post-match, Strowman single-handedly takes down the faces. Roman then gets singled out by the Wyatt Family. This brings out… The Big Show (?) who I guess is a face tonight? Maybe he’ll join the Wyatt Family in the remaining two minutes of this show though. Show bodyslams Rowan, clotheslines Harper, and then stares down Strowman and Bray. Strowman and Show have a stare down before Rowan and Harper jump Show from behind. Roman appears to make the save, but Strowman catches Roman mid-Superman punch. Show then recovers, grabs Strowman by the throat, and tosses him out of the ring. Bray tries to Sister Abigail Reigns, but Roman blocks it and Superman punches him. Ambrose and Jericho then toss Rowan out of the ring. If this doesn’t end with Big Show chokeslamming all of the faces I’m going to be disappointed. Harper is alone in the ring so he charges Show, who grabs him by the neck and feeds him to Roman for a spear. Wow, Show made it through this entire segment with just one alignment.
Well, that post-main event segment was somewhat surprising. Especially for a SmackDown. I guess they’re feeding Big Show to Strowman for the inevitable “big man” match to try to establish Strowman as something more than the guy that only Undertaker and Kane can knock down. I suppose with Brock locked up in the triple threat match they needed something for the Wyatt Family to do for Fastlane.
Not the best SmackDown, but it still continues the upward trend of quality we’ve come to expect since the beginning of the new year.