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Smackdown - January 2, 2015

Date: January 2, 2015
Location: Norfolk Scope Arena, Norfolk, Virginia
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

So the Authority is back because WWE can't wait more than a few weeks without having a full time heel GM running the show. Other than that, Edge and Christian are allegedly in charge tonight, despite filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against WWE on Main Event, because if there's one thing WWE fans like more than evil authority figures, it's the fun characters filing lawsuits. Let's get to it.

We open with a recap of the ending of Raw. Seth Rollins is awesome in this heel role and comes off as evil when he's given the chance. I remember thinking that if he really wants to nail this, he'll go to stomp Edge anyway, and that's exactly what he did.

A somewhat subdued E & C open things up as Cole brings up the lawsuit. Edge (in a Cesaro shirt this time) says he's played the scene from Raw in his head over and over and it's his fault. He apologizes for what happened, but there's nothing they can do physically to Rollins. Don't worry though because there's a John Cena sized missile coming after Rollins very soon. They have an amazing show planned and there's nothing the Authority can do about it.

Before they can though, we see a limo on screen with the Stooges alone getting out. They head to the ring with Mercury holding a document. Edge suggests they climb under the bottom rope next time because it's better suited to their height. The document is a prepared statement from the Authority, which says they didn't know what Rollins was going to do on Monday.

The Authority officially apologizes and won't interfere with Edge and Christian running Smackdown tonight, but the Stooges will be their official observers tonight. Edge smiles and makes his first match of the night: the Stooges vs. Ryback. The Stooges panic so Edge makes it Ryback vs. Big Show. Christian agrees that that's a main event in any arena in the country, but thinks he can one up Edge with Rusev vs. Roman Reigns. Noble says this is going on their permanent files. Edge: “You know I don't work here right?” He gets in their faces and says he and Christian are running things tonight, period.

Erick Rowan vs. Bray Wyatt

Bray tells Rowan to lay down because they're not meant to fight. Erick goes right at him and drives Bray face first into the buckle but misses a charge into the post. Bray asks why Rowan is doing this to him and puts Rowan on the mat with his head against the post. He tries what looked like a clothesline and clearly didn't touch Rowan's head so I'm not sure what effect that was supposed to have. I know a lot of moves don't connect but you can usually tell what they were supposed to be.

Back in and Rowan pops up because his genius IQ (remember that?) insulates his skull or something. He slams Bray around a few times and the fans buy into the false hope of the comeback attempt. Rowan slowly picks Bray up and says he's sorry, only to eat Sister Abigail for the pin at 4:02.

Rating: D+. So is Rowan possibly going back to Wyatt? It's better than whatever he's doing now, which seems to be turning into a genius then forgetting about it while he jobs to Big Show. As usual, WWE builds someone up, gets bored with them and throws them out of their crib like a baby with a toy more than a week old. In this case though it was about two matches as Rowan has been treated like a joke since the day after Survivor Series.

Bray looks remorseful after getting the pin, almost like he feels sorry for having to hurt Rowan. Wyatt grabs the mic and says he gave their only begotten son. If he's willing to do that to someone he loves, what is he going to do to Dean Ambrose on Monday? It's been fun, but all good things must come to an end. Their story ends with Dean in the back of an ambulance. Follow the buzzards.

Edge and Christian make sure the Stooges hear them practicing the Five Second Pose. The Stooges cut it off and do it themselves in a bit that really isn't as funny as they were shooting for.

R-Truth/Usos vs. Goldust/Stardust/Adam Rose

Rose tries to do WHAT'S UP and gets booed out of the space he's standing in (there was nowhere near enough of a reaction for it to be out of the room). Truth even takes us back to the past with a WHOMP THERE IT IS! Adam tries the same and gets rolled up for two. Jey comes in and is quickly sent to the floor as we take a break. Back with powerslamming Jey for two. Goldust: “COME ON KEY!” At least that's what it sounded like.

Off to Stardust to stand on Jey's chest as the announcers go over the history of the Dusts and the Usos. They even manage to make that sound dull as there's just no emotion in Phillips' voice and it's clear that he's just reading this off a piece of paper in front of him. Go watch some Gorilla and Jesse to learn how to sound interested in something, even if there's nothing interesting to talk about.

Jey gets popped in the mouth by Rose but knocks Adam and Stardust off the apron before backdropping Goldust out next to them. Jimmy (Uso, not Little Jimmy) comes in with some clotheslines for Rose and there goes the orange shirt. Everything breaks down and Truth dives onto Goldust, setting up the superkick and Superfly Splash to Rose for the pin at 8:20.

Rating: C-. So I guess it's back to the Usos vs. Goldust/Stardust because almost a year of the same idea isn't enough. I still can't believe how badly they screwed up Rose. He should have had a job for years from just coming out to start a house show, getting the fans to dance and beating a low level heel (“This isn't some party! This is business!”) in two minutes before dancing away. In other words, he should have been the PG version of the Godfather. Instead he's this: a guy that feuds with a Bunny and R-Truth over a battle of rollups. Stop making things more complicated than they should be.

The Rosebuds try to go after Truth and the Usos and are dispatched with ease. The Usos steal their hats and it's time to dance.

We look back at Bryan's announcement from Raw. That's such good news to hear as he's worked so hard to get where he is and now he gets to keep going.

Ryback vs. Big Show

We get a clip of Ryback's big speech on Monday where he talked about his career, including the bad leg injury he suffered back in 2010. The fans look so bored as Big Show comes through the curtain. Show easily shoves Ryback out to the floor and drags him back in by his head. Back in and Ryback drops him with some middle rope ax handles, but unfortunately that's the extent of Randy Savage's influence on this match.

We take a break and come back with both guys trading clubbing blows until Big Show drops him with a boot. Show goes after the leg, showing some thinking after Ryback mentioned the ankle and leg injuries almost ending his career. He takes Ryback's knee pad down and lifts him up by the leg to stay on it. Off to an old school Lasso From El Paso but Ryback is right next to the ropes. I miss that hold but it wasn't as good as the Haas of Pain. Big Show slams him down, making sure that the leg hits the ropes.

Ryback sends him out to the floor for a breather before firing off some shoulder blocks. A Thesz Press and Warrior Splash have Show in trouble but Ryback has to limp for a bit to pretend he knows how to sell. Doing your usual offense and then limping isn't the same thing as selling an injury. The chokeslam is countered into a spinebuster but the Russian flag drops to break up the Meat Hook. The distraction lets Big Show KO Ryback to the floor for the countout at 11:30.

Rating: D+. This was a decent enough power match until Ryback just popped up and stopped selling the leg until he got his offense in. Big Show basically wasted his time on the leg, especially with the ending they went with. That being said, it wasn't the worst idea in the world as they kept both guys looking strong, and you know Big Show isn't going to lose a match when he can knock someone out and look dominant, because Big Show exists to be pushed as hard as he can.

JBL tries to save Ryback by saying he wasn't completely out cold from the KO. In other words, he was starting to move his limbs at six. That's his consolation prize. Rusev comes after Ryback but takes a Meat Hook to knock him outside again.

Christian is in the bathroom so Jamie Noble goes in to keep an eye on him. A woman screams and Edge says that was the women's bathroom. COMEDY!

Cesaro/Tyson Kidd vs. Los Matadores

Thankfully they haven't used the rumored name The Masters Of The WWE Universe for Kidd and Cesaro yet. They say they're glad the Authority is back and want the titles in an inset interview. Fernando runs into Kidd's elbow to start and his suicide dive hits Cesaro's uppercut. Back in and Kidd hammers away before it's off to Cesaro for a chinlock. Not the most exciting stuff in the world here.

They pick things up a bit with the Cesaro Swing into the dropkick from Kidd. That's a really good spot when they can time it right. Kidd gets dropkicked out of the air and the lukewarm tag brings in Diego. Everything breaks down and Diego gets caught in a Cesaro powerbomb with Kidd adding a Blockbuster for the pin at 4:02.

Rating: D+. Kidd and Cesaro had some good double team spots but there aren't enough of them to carry a match. Los Matadores were fun for awhile but they've dropped down to what people were expecting them to be when the gimmick was introduced: standard high flying jobbers that might get the crowd going for a few moments before losing. Dull match.

Dean Ambrose vs. Curtis Axel

The match never starts as Ambrose goes after Axel before the bell and lays him out with Dirty Deeds.

Ambrose grabs the mic and walks up the ramp, saying he hopes Bray is listening. They have the first ambulance match in the history of Monday Night Raw to kick off 2015. Dean walks up to an ambulance next to the ramp and promises to run Bray over, then break all of his fingers, then run him over again, then attach him to the ambulance and drag him around the arena. Then he'll FINALLY put him into the ambulance and drive him away for a Happy New Year.

Ascension says first it was Hawk and Animal, then it was Ax and Smash, but now it's Viktor and Konnor. I like that they're acknowledging that they're a modern version of the old school power tag team.

We look at the end of Raw again. Lesnar standing off in the background and looking annoyed intrigues me.

Ascension vs. ???/???

Ascension has gained 21lbs combined since Raw as they came in at a laughable 480 there and 501 here. Viktor fires off elbows in the corner to jobber #1 before it's off to the 280lb Konnor, allegedly putting Viktor at 221. I have a problem believing he's within a few pounds of CM Punk's listed weight. After beating on #1 some more, the Fall of Man ends Jobber #2 at 1:20.

Edge and Christian are in the Authority's office when the Stooges come in and say they need to get it ready for the Authority's return. Is there a reason they're setting up an office in Virginia when Raw is being held in Corpus Christi, Texas? The Stooges leave and the Canadians draw on the Authority's Muscle and Fitness cover. This needed more Slick references.

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns

Non-title. Feeling out process to start with Rusev getting the first blows in as he stomps Reigns down in the corner. They're being very liberal with the piped in chants again tonight. Reigns nails a quick clothesline to put Rusev on the floor and we take a break. Back with Reigns fighting out of a front facelock and snapping Rusev's throat over the top rope. Rusev takes him down to the mat with a waistlock and the fans just go silent. The Russian mixes things up with a chinlock and the release fall away slam for two. Yet another chinlock makes me groan out loud.

Reigns blocks a ram into the buckle but Rusev throws him out to the floor. Back in and they shove each other a few times until Reigns nails some running clotheslines. A dropkick stops the Superman Punch but Reigns nails the second attempt. Reigns has to throw Rusev back inside and here's the required Big Show interference. He doesn't touch Reigns but eats a Superman Punch so we're not done yet. The jumping superkick gets two but Reigns pops up with the spear, drawing in Big Show for the DQ at 13:12.

Rating: D. If this is the best they've got for Wrestlemania, they're in big, big trouble. Reigns isn't even bad in the ring or anything. He's just REALLY boring a lot of the time, but to be fair a lot of this match was dull because of all the chinlocks and facelocks Rusev kept using. Reigns needs a lot more seasoning and a lot more character development before he's ready for anything resembling a big time main event. There's no emotion behind him and the best main events of Wrestlemania, or any major show for that matter, are usually built on the emotion the stars bring to the match.

Another thing working against this match was how obvious the ending was. The only question was whether it would be Ryback, Big Show or both guys interfering to cause the DQ. In other words, we sat through a boring match with an obvious ending to continue a feud that not a lot of people want to see to end a really dull show. Happy New Year people.

Post match Big Show spears Reigns and loads up a chokeslam, only to be slammed face first into the table. Show loads up another spear but misses and goes flying over the announcers' table. Reigns turns the table over on Show to finally end the night.

Overall Rating: D-. I don't know how fair it is to criticize Reigns at the moment because he's stuck in one of the least interesting feuds I can remember in a very long time. This feud should have lasted all of two weeks but somehow they're stretching it into the new year and it dies a little more every time they drag it out. We've seen Big Show built up as a monster for the better part of twenty years now and the story of someone bringing him down is the same almost every time. Why should we care more about it with Reigns instead of everyone else that has done this story over the years?

Other than that....dang this show was dull. The big problem here is they're stuck in a holding pattern until Monday when the Authority is back full time, making tonight just a placeholder show until things really pick up on Monday, complete with slow speaking twenty five minute opening speeches with a bunch of “I told you so's”. The wrestling was nothing special and felt like a waste of my time for the most part.

That being said, there's a good deal of hope for the future as the Rumble field is shaping up and Lesnar is wide open after Cena. It's Wrestlemania season and hopefully that means they're going to put in some efforts and fresh ideas instead of the same tired old feuds and stories. Maybe this is the last of the bad shows for awhile, but I'm not thrilled with what they've done with Smackdown in the last few weeks. This show was a disaster and really felt like a chore to sit through rather than something I was supposed to enjoy.

Bray Wyatt b. Erick Rowan – Sister Abigail
Usos/R-Truth b. Adam Rose/Goldust/Stardust – Superfly Splash to Rose
Big Show b. Ryback via countout
Cesaro/Tyson Kidd b. Los Matadores – Powerbomb/Blockbuster combo to Diego
Ascension b. ???/??? – Fall of Man to #1
Roman Reigns b. Rusev via DQ when Big Show interfered

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