1/22 Smackdown: Great build for Rumble

Mike Tedesco’s Smackdown Thoughts
January 22, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

I really liked the first segment. It did the obvious, which is reintroduce those three guys to the audience, but it also signals that, for at least the time being, Smackdown is going to be must see programming for WWE. The return of Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback is a big pay off. It was cool that Daniel Bryan was the guy to bring them back as well. That says a lot to me about his position as one of the top babyfaces of the company. Bryan got great reactions from the crowd as usual. I liked Ryback’s promo. It was full of fire and personality. Rowan’s left a lot to be desired, but that’s his character. Ziggler was fantastic as well. He’s still got moments on the microphone that are a little awkward and sometimes he steps on other people’s lines, but he’s greatly improved. The Authority came out to bring things down a bit, which I thought was well done as well. Seth Rollins in particular was very good. The only thing I wish they had stated was that Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan would have to win their matches to be in the Royal Rumble. Michael Cole had to chime in with that afterward. Still, it was a good segment and a nice way to kick off the show.

That wasn’t a bad match from Dolph Ziggler and Bad News Barrett. There wasn’t much to it. They told a basic story and did it well. Barrett continues to lose regular matches as the Intercontinental Champion, but at least this one makes sense. Ziggler got screwed, so he got even with one of the guys who screwed him.

That was an absolutely fantastic match between Rusev and Ryback. I was really blown away by that performance. I love matches between two big guys that just knock the hell out of each other. They did just that, but they did more than that. They really went at it and had the crowd believing that Rusev’s yearlong winning streak was coming to an end on Smackdown. Deep down you knew he wasn’t getting pinned, but they had the crowd believing anyway. This was an excellent match. I can’t wait to see more from this rivalry.

Watching the Divas match actually made me sad. Naomi is so talented and yet she’s stuck doing jobs instead of acting as the star of the division. It just doesn’t make any sense. The match was fine, but the finish was never in doubt. The only thing I just didn’t care for whatsoever was Natalya on commentary. There’s something so awkward about her whenever she’s on camera. Her head is always positioned in some bizarre angle, and she looks like she’s having trouble swallowing. Then she’s just fumbling her way through things. She seems like a person who is completely fearful of doing anything wrong, so she’s stiff as a board even when performing. I hope I don’t have to suffer through that for some time.

I actually really enjoyed the Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan match. That was another hard hitting slugfest between two big guys. They kicked the tar out of each other, and it was entertaining. I don’t mind Rowan losing the match and not being in the Royal Rumble. I think everyone was assuming all three guys would win, so that definitely brings an air of unpredictability to the show. Besides, Rowan’s face turn, which never really happened (he sort of just showed up out of nowhere for Team Cena), can’t be characterized as a success. I think they should keep him off TV for a little bit and bring him back heel.

The main event match between Daniel Bryan and Kane was well done. They didn’t go too crazy with the weapons, but they used just enough to meet the No Disqualification quota. I figured they would punish Bryan further by putting him in the number one spot, but I guess they didn’t go that route. Still, Bryan came out of the match looking like a star and a great underdog. The locker room emptying out at the end was a nice touch and classic for Royal Rumble build. This was a great show to do the final sell for Sunday. I’m very much looking forward to the show. Who would have thought with only two hours they could manage to make an entertaining television show? That’s sarcasm, people.

Bump of the Night: Erick Rowan giving Luke Harper a powerbomb!
Match of the Night: Ryback vs. Rusev ** 1/4

Final Rating: *** 1/2

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Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.